AUG
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November

Services in the Teign Valley & Haldon Hill Churches

Ashton ~ Bridford ~ Christow ~ Doddicombsleigh ~ Dunchideock ~ Dunsford

 

Nov

Bridford

Christow

Ashton

Doddisc’sleigh

Dunchideock

Dunsford

 

4

4 Before Advent

8.30

Holy Communion at Bridford

BCP

10.00

Parish Communion at Doddiscombsleigh

Order 1

with Blessing  of Shoeboxes

10.00

Family Service

with Blessing  of Shoeboxes

6.30

Group Choral Evensong at Christow

BCP

 

11

Remem-brance

Sunday

10.30

Remembrance Sunday Service

10.55

Parish Communion with Remembrance

Order 1(Trad)

9.30

Remembrance Sunday Service

10.50

Remembrance Sunday Service

10.50

Parish Communion with Remembrance

Order 1 (Trad)

10.50

Remembrance Sunday Service

 

18

2 Before Advent

8.30

Holy Communion at Christow

BCP

10.00

Parish Communion at Ashton

Order 1

10.00

Parish Communion

Order 1

6.30

Evening Worship

 

 

25

Christ the King

10.00

Parish Communion at Christow

Order 1

8.30

Holy Communion at Doddiscombsleigh

BCP

8.30

Holy Communion

BCP

 

10.00

Parish Communion

Order 1

 

November

As we prepare ourselves once again to remember with thanksgiving the sacrifice of those who died fighting on our behalf in the wars and conflicts of the last century and who are still dying even today in the first years of this century, plans are already being talked over for a major national commemoration when the centenary of the 1914-1918 World War arrives in just two years time.

 

Last month David Cameron spoke at what we still call the Imperial War Museum in London and announced his ambition to hold a national commemoration of what is rather ambivalently known as the Great War.  The commemorations will include the centenary of the first day of conflict on 4 August, 2014, the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 2016, further events to mark the battles of Jutland, Gallipoli and Passchendaele, and finally Armistice Day in 2018.

 

Some £50 million is to be earmarked for this.  It may sound a lot but is less than £1 per person in the population.  Some of this will be spent on educational projects and visits and these will hopefully provide a huge opportunity to increase awareness among young people as to how such a tragic and ill-conceived human undertaking – one that left such a deep scar on our national history - at the same time furthered many significant social changes that have brought us to where we are today.

 

Such an undertaking will no doubt be surrounded with controversy and disagreement.  The Prime Minister seems to be visualising a commemoration along the lines of the recent Diamond Jubilee, one that ‘captures our national spirit in every corner of the country, from our schools and workplaces, to our town halls and local communities’ and makes the centenary ‘a truly national moment in every community in our land’.

 

The difficulty for some people will be whether we can really celebrate such a centenary with the same national spirit that arose out of the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic triumph of London 2012.  People who visit the sites of WW1 battles, and the graveyards and monuments and museums that commemorate them today, do not often come way with a desire to celebrate our national spirit.  What we often come away with is a huge sense of loss and waste, of tragic and sometimes barbaric cruelty and what the poet memorably described as the ‘pity of war’.

 

If we are going to honour the memory of millions, on both sides of the conflict, who suffered and died in almost indescribable horror, the truth of what went on cannot be concealed behind flag-waving, by jaunty national spirit or by the holding of street parties - such as were held after the wars to celebrate not only victory but also the end of the conflict and the end of the terror.

 

The well-tested way of honouring the lives and memories of those who suffered and died for us, and who are still doing so even in our own day, is in silence and in the wearing of poppies.  We have been doing it for nearly a hundred years in every community in our land, in churches and around war memorials.  The reading of names, sometimes the sound of the bugle, and then the silence - it still works and still has the power to touch our hearts and our minds.

Special occasions this autumn

Shoebox Sundays – Operation Christmas Child

Bring your shoeboxes to a 10.00 am Service on one of the following:

October 28th at Christow

November 4th at Dunsford and Doddiscombsleigh

Leaflets are available in churches and in schools for Operation Christmas Child.  These are the latest dates for bringing your shoeboxes to church for blessing and collection, but shoeboxes are also being collected in the village schools and in other ways.  Please contact Annabelle Hofmann (252961) for further information.

 

Group Choral Evensong – Sunday 4th November at Christow at 6.30 pm

Many people enjoy Prayer Book Evensong especially when we have a choir to lead the singing.  We hold these services three or four times a year and all are welcome to come along to Christow Church on November 4th at 6.30 pm.

 

Remembrance Sunday Services – Sunday 11th November

This year Remembrance Sunday falls on Armistice Day, 11th November, and there will be appropriate services with an Act of Remembrance in each of our village churches:

Ashton – 9.30 Remembrance Sunday Service

Bridford – 10.30 Remembrance Sunday Service

Doddiscombsleigh – 10.50 Service of Remembrance

followed by ceremony at the War Memorial

Dunchideock – 10.50 Parish Communion with Act of Remembrance

Dunsford – 10.50 Service of Remembrance

Christow – 10.55 Parish Communion with Act of Remembrance

 

Christingles

Candles, oranges, sweets on sticks and bright red ribbon - it’s our first taste of Christmas in church.  Be sure to bring your children along to one of our Christingle Services at the beginning of December:

Dunsford - Sunday 2nd December at 10.00 am

Christow - Sunday 2nd December at 5.00 pm

Bridford – Sunday 2nd December at 5.00 pm

Dunchideock - Sunday 9th December at 5.00 pm

 

Harvest Thanksgiving Services

Thank you to all those who decorated the churches and donated flowers, greenery and produce for our Harvest Thanksgiving Services.  Thank you too to all those involved in preparing and serving the lunches and suppers, and in selling the produce.  As well as celebrating the good things in life, we were also remembering the needs of others.  Generous amounts were raised to send to Christian Aid and Tearfund and goods that were not auctioned for this purpose were given to Age Concern in Exeter

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their summer meetings as follows:

Dunsford – Wednesday 14th November at 7.30 pm at 9 Brownings Mead

Christow – Wednesday 21st November at 7.45 pm at Station House

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

September 22nd     Carn Doderer (Christow)

Weddings

October 6th           David Whalley and Maria Trifonova (Christow)

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

October

If there was one big question that you would like answered, I wonder what it would be.  For some of you it might be about the future and what the days, months, years ahead have in store for you.  Others might be looking for clues to the purpose of life?  What are we here for?  Is there any point in it?  Where do we go when we die?

 

Or maybe your big question arises out of what we see going on in the world around us.  War, famine, bombings, disease – why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?

 

Much of the time, the big questions about the meaning of life, about God, about the origin or purpose of the universe, just lie quietly in our minds, under the surface.  They are not urgent matters that require an answer now.  It’s more that we would just like satisfy our curiosity, especially about things like angels, ghosts, miracles and the supernatural.

 

Much of the time there’s plenty else to be getting on with.  Work to be done, mouths to be fed, people to meet and care for, plans to be pursued, as well as all the home-based entertainment that people are not short of these days.

 

In fact, for many of us, life seems to speed by at quite a rate these days.  And it’s not as if we don’t have any answers at all to the big questions.  We have our beliefs, our inner convictions and ideas.  They might not be important enough to die for, but they get us along from day to day.  We also have made decisions about what matters in life and we pursue our own goals, dreams and ideals accordingly.  It’s only when our dreams, goals and ideals fail to tie in with reality in life that we risk coming unstuck.

 

One of the beauties of the four gospels – and also many other parts of the Bible – is that so many of the characters are full of questions.  They question, they doubt, they misunderstand.  Even the twelve men chosen by Jesus to be his closest companions found it hard to take on board what he tried for three years to tell them.

 

We might imagine that their search for the answers to the big questions of life would have been a lot easier than ours.  After all they had Jesus right there with them.  But some of it was so different from what they had been brought up to expect.  And some of it went right against their dreams and ideals.  Its scope was far greater than they could easily cope with.  Like when Peter asks Jesus: How many times must I forgive the person who offends me?  As many as seven times.  No, says Jesus, not seven times, but seventy times seven!

 

In other words there are no limits.  And Christ’s teaching generally is not heavily directive or prescriptive.  He did not some to burden us with more laws and dogmas.  He came to open the way to God, to move beyond the black and white, the cut and dried of so much religious teaching.  What he offers us is a context of faith and love in which we might feel free to find God, and then feel able to entrust the answers to those big questions to Him.

Special events during October

Harvest Thanksgiving Services

As well as celebrating the good things in life at our Harvest Thanksgiving Services, we also focus on people both near and far away who rarely enjoy the things that we take so much for granted.  Please bring along gifts of produce and there will be an opportunity to give financial support to trusted agencies such as Tearfund and Christian Aid who are making a real difference to people’s lives with farming and water projects in parts of Africa.

Five of our churches are celebrating Harvest this month:

Ashton - Sunday 7th October at 11.30 am followed by Harvest Lunch

Dunsford - Sunday 7th October at 10.00 am for a Family Service and also at 6.30 pm for Harvest Evensong followed by Harvest Supper

Doddiscombsleigh - Sunday 7th October at 6.30 p.m. followed by Harvest Supper

Bridford – Sunday 14th October at 11.30 am followed by Harvest Lunch

Dunchideock - Sunday 14th October at 6.00 p.m. followed by Harvest Supper

Offerings of flowers and produce are much appreciated for decorating the churches and are then used for the benefit of others.  All are welcome.

 

Autumn Course

Thursday mornings 27th September – 25th October 10.30-12.00

or Wednesday evenings 3rd October – 31st October 7.30-9.00

Compared by many with the classic epics of ancient literature, the Acts of the Apostles is a book that is full of action, conspiracy, intrigue and fiercely fought conflict.  The story line is peppered with lynch mobs, shipwrecks and amazing rescues and tells the tale of the fiery characters who faced trials and persecutions, floggings and chains, and aroused bitter controversy as they took the Christian message across the ancient Mediterranean world.  At our Autumn Course this year, we will explore this epic story either on Thursday mornings at The Spinney in Bridford or on Wednesday evenings at Wood View in Dunsford.  You can come to either or even switch about between the two.

 

Shoebox Services: October 28th (Christow) & November 4th (Dunsford)

The ‘Operation Christmas Child’ leaflets will be available in our churches this month and there will be opportunities to bring your shoeboxes to church for blessing as we send them on their way - either at Parish Communion on 28th October at Christow or the Family Service at Dunsford on 4th November – both at 10.00 am.

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their summer meetings as follows:

Ashton – Monday 22nd October at 2.00 pm at George Teign Barton

Bridford – Wednesday 17th October at 2.00 pm at The Spinney

Christow – Wednesday 21st November at 7.45 pm at Station House

Doddiscombsleigh - Thursday 18th October at 7.30 pm at Oakley

Dunchideock – Monday 15th October at 7.30 pm at Christow Rectory

Dunsford – Thursday 7th October at 7.30 pm at 9 Brownings Mead

From The Registers

Baptisms

September 16th     Emily Withers (Doddiscombsleigh)

Weddings

September 8th       Christopher Hawkins and Natasha Shortell (Christow)

Funerals

September 4th       Mark Steer (Bridford at Exeter Crematorium)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

September

There was a time when a mobile was something that you hung over a baby’s cot, a printer was the man you went to for your letterheadings and a pin was something you might prick your finger on.  The web was something built by a hungry spider, a PC was an officer of the law and a password was something you needed to know to access the den built by your children at the bottom of the garden.  A pod was what you split open to get the peas out, a pad was used for scribbling notes on and a tablet was something given to you to be swallowed with a glass of water when you felt ill.

I guess it was just good marketing for the computer industry to adapt familiar and user-friendly names in order to attract us to their products.  It’s all about image and the two big operating systems that appear to dominate the world of computing as far as we are concerned probably didn’t even consider trading with names like Prickly Pear or Microhard.

So I was quite surprised when I discovered, some time ago, that the word android is being used in connection with one of the phone and tablet computer systems.  It conjures up the science fiction world of Dr Who, the daleks and the cybermen.  It suggests humanoid robotic monsters.  But I need have no such fears because if I were to opt for an android system, it will be a harmless as a cupcake, a doughnut, an éclair or a froyo (or frozen yogurt).  It will be as nice as gingerbread, honeycomb or even an ice cream sandwich.

Each version of Android that has appeared over the last four years has been given one of these names and made to sound all sweet and tasty.  The latest is jelly bean and they tell us that’s because everything will now feel fast, smooth and fluid with buttery graphics and silky transitions.  All I can think is that eating jelly beans in the US must be a really amazing experience!

As many of us are now aware, these gadgets that can sit in the palm of our hands or on our laps, that we can take with us wherever we go, are more powerful than many of us ever discover.  They can find, store and process huge amounts of information faster than we can think.  You can visit art galleries, watch sport, access music and talk face to face with people on the other side of the world from practically anywhere.   

We cannot begin to imagine how many hours of programming, design and resourcing have gone into making it all possible.  We know that it could not possibly have happened by accident.  And yet that is what some people would have us believe about the equally, if not more, amazing world in which we live.  The scientists tell us that it is all made up particles – from dust it has all been created and to dust it shall all return.  Do we really imagine that the particles just gathered by accident to produce the colours of a butterfly or the feathers of a flamingo?

 

The two stories of Creation that we find in the Bible – just two of the stories that our earliest ancestors used to tell about their origins in different parts of the world – contain significant insights that have yet to be contradicted.  The first story supposes a process that happened in stages while the second has interesting things to say about particles or dust as the basic building matter.  They were also quite convinced that none of it could have happened by accident.

Special events during September

Harvest Thanksgiving – Sunday 23rd September at 11.30 am at Christow

Each autumn, we celebrate the gifts and provision of the created world at our Harvest Thanksgivings.  Most of them will take place next month, but at Christow we begin this month on Sunday 23rd September at 11.30 am followed by Harvest Lunch in Church.  All are welcome.

 

Autumn Course : Thursdays 27th September – 25th October

Compared by many with the classic epics of ancient literature, the Acts of the Apostles is a book that is full of action, conspiracy, intrigue and fiercely fought conflict.  The story line is peppered with lynch mobs, shipwrecks and amazing rescues and tells the tale of the fiery characters who faced trials and persecutions, floggings and chains, and aroused bitter controversy as they took the Christian message across the ancient Mediterranean world.  At our Autumn Course this year, we will explore this epic story on Thursday mornings starting 27th September 10.30-12.00.  The venue is The Spinney in Bridford by kind invitation of Francis and Daphne Leversedge.

 

Group Council

The Group Council meets on Thursday 13th September at 7.30 pm at George Teign Barton.

 

Bishop Bob Farewell Service

Just to remind you that the Farewell Service for Bishop Bob is being held at Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 6th October at 3.00 pm.  All are welcome to attend – but get there in good time as it will be very full!

 

From The Registers

Weddings

July 14th               Alex Moorhouse and Catherine Warne (Ashton)

July 25th               Christopher Shrubb and Stephanie Trica (Dunsford)

July 27th               Sam Bark and Karen Thomas (Dunsford)

Funerals

July 24th               Alan Fey (Christow)

July 26th               Linda Steer (Bridford)

August 6th             Esme Doris Legg (Interment of Ashes at Dunchideock)

August 16th                    Rosemary Garforth (Bridford)

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

August

’s taken forty-five years and billions of pounds have been spent but, as you probably heard, the scientists at the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research in Geneva think they have finally cracked it. From deep down in their subterranean tunnel underneath the Alps, they announced last month with great excitement that they have discovered a new particle and one that seems to be very much like the long sought after Higgs Boson, also known as the ‘God particle’. 

With a name like that, the scientists have succeeded in getting some well-deserved publicity for what to many people must seem like a fairly obscure and useless piece of information. However, if you read the small print carefully, you will soon find out that calling it the God-particle has no scientific foundation whatsoever. It simply came about a few years ago when a scientist referred to it in a newspaper interview as ‘that goddam particle’. As the editor of the newspaper would not allow that to be printed, he changed it to the ‘God particle’ and that is what it’s been called ever since!

 

Whatever they decide to call it, I can’t say that I felt moved to crack open a bottle of champagne and celebrate as the excited scientists and technicians were doing in their underground bunker. But I am happy to take their word that what they have done is highly significant and accept that what they have done might be compared to Columbus’s discovery of the New World some five hundred years ago.

 

Just as Columbus’s epic voyage opened the door to the discovery of new lands in the west, so it seems that the Higgs Boson particle now opens the door to finding more particles and forming clearer ideas about how the building blocks of the universe operate and how they stick and work together. Who knows where such knowledge may lead?

 

After all, it is through the patient and committed work of scientists that we have arrived at the quality of life that we enjoy today. All the developments that they have made in medicine, engineering, technology have enriched and extended our lives and those of people all across the world. Ignorance, superstition and fear give way to knowledge and huge improvements in people’s health and well-being.

 

You could look at this in one of two ways. Some would say that we will eventually have a purely physical explanation for everything that happens in the world. We won’t need God any more. But others see all the potential and natural resources in the world as given to us by God and just waiting to be discovered and used for our well-being.

 

Whichever line we take on this, they cannot both of course be true. At the same time, we live in a culture where we are free to decide for ourselves what we believe and that was certainly not the case in the days of Christopher Columbus. Europe was then not unlike some places in the world today. In seventeenth century Protestant Holland or Catholic Spain, you could go to prison or worse if you expressed views on predestination or what happens to the bread and wine on the altar that did not agree with the official line of whoever was in power at the time.

 

In today’s world, hardly anyone will think the less of you whether you have faith or no faith. We all know as well that the Christian faith is not the only stall in the marketplace. Thought for the Day on the Radio 4 Today programme is a slot shared by Christians with equally good Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist speakers and some would like to see humanists offering their insights as well. Our towns and cities have mosques and temples as well as churches and chapels. In fact we put a high value on religious freedom and tolerance and, in a post-modern secular Britain, that is how most people want it to be.

 

But can the truth be whatever you believe it to be? For scientists that could never be the case. The truth for them is out there waiting to be discovered in hadrons, bosons, quarks, neutrinos, photons and muons. Forty-five years ago, Professor Peter Higgs proposed the existence of a boson and last month it was confirmed by experiment. Similarly God either exists or doesn’t.

At first sight, the difference between science and faith seems immense. Scientists work out a reasonable hypothesis and then look to evidence to confirm that they are right. At the same time, each discovery leads on to further hypotheses and there seems to be no end to it at all. The first steps of faith are a bit like that as well. The hypothesis is that God exists, that he loves us and has revealed himself to us throughout human history and in particular in Jesus.

As we journey on trust, the evidence and understanding begin to accumulate and build. We make discoveries but at the same time we continue to move on trusting in what is essentially unknown and certainly unproven. For scientists as well as people of faith – and many scientists are people of faith - the path they have chosen makes real demands and only through commitment and persistence will its fruits be discovered.

Special events during August

Sung Compline – Sunday 5th August at 6.00 pm at Christow

Sometimes we need something quiet and reflective and the ancient service of Sung Compline has proved quite popular over the last couple of years. This year it’s on Sunday 5th August at 6.00 pm in Christow Church. All are welcome.

Group Choral Evensong – Sunday 19th August at Bridford at 6.30 pm

It may be surprising how many people still enjoy Prayer Book Evensong, not necessarily all the time, but on occasions especially when we have a choir to lead the singing. We hold these two or three times a year and all are welcome to come along to Bridford Church on August 19th at 6.30 pm.

New Archdeacon coming to Christow – Sunday 26th August at 10.00 am

Our new Archdeacon of Exeter, the Ven. Christopher Futcher, is coming to lead the Parish Communion service at Christow on Sunday 26th August at 10.00 am.

Looking Ahead

Autumn Course : Thursdays 27th September – 25th October

Compared by many with the classic epics of ancient literature, the Acts of the Apostles is a book that is full of action, conspiracy, intrigue and fiercely fought conflict. The story line is peppered with lynch mobs, shipwrecks and amazing rescues and tells the tale of the fiery characters who faced trials and persecutions, floggings and chains, and aroused bitter controversy as they took the Christian message across the ancient Mediterranean world. At our Autumn Course this year, we will explore this epic story on Thursday mornings starting 27th September 10.30-12.00. The venue is The Spinney in Bridford by kind invitation of Francis and Daphne Leversedge. If there are some who would prefer to do this on Wednesday evenings, starting 26th September, and can suggest a venue, please let me know.

Group Council

The Group Council meets on Thursday 13th September at 7.30 pm at George Teign Barton.

From The Registers

Baptisms

July 7th Sebastian Goodwin-Hughes (Bridford)

Weddings

June 23rd Steven Richards and Sarah Tripp (Dunsford)

June 30th Simon Booker and Rachel Foxwell (Ashton)

Funerals

June 9th Emily Evans (Interment of Ashes at Dunsford)

June 23rd Charlie Bowden (Interment of Ashes at Bridford)

July 12th Joan Carew Pole (Dunsford)

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can. The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

July

I sometimes wonder if the television set that stands in the corner of our lounge really justifies its existence, especially with the annually rising cost of the licence fee.  But then when it comes to watching sport, at the moment I am really spoilt for choice.  If life was a little less busy, I could easily spend hours in the grandstand of my favourite armchair.  Should I lose interest in Euro 2012, I can turn to one of the Test Matches or the tennis at Wimbledon to see if this might at last be Andy’s year after all.  And then there will be the Olympics.

 

The excitement of supporting our own home-grown team or players can be great fun, and there will be no shortage of Union or St George’s flags and red and white faces now and in the coming weeks.  But for London 2012 there will be millions of people all over the world watching with us and there’ll be plenty to enjoy whoever finally ends up with gold, silver or bronze.  Wherever they come from, whether it’s the balance and agility of the gymnasts, the pace and thrill of the team games or the nail- biting suspense in the show jumping, it will be hard not to be very impressed by the performance of the great players and competitors.  To see them in action is to witness an amazing display of skill and stamina, of mental and physical agility.

 

None of it is achieved without the highest levels of discipline, commitment and self- sacrifice and it’s not just about physical strength and skill. Body, mind and spirit are all severely tested and it’s not really an exaggeration to speak of the need to crucify the flesh, to subdue all natural inclinations and appetites in order to get the best.  All the truly great athletes and many of the lesser ones will know what that is about.

 

Two thousand years ago, St Paul watched Greek athletes competing for the wreaths of laurel not far from where the Olympics originated.  He was very struck by the way they pummelled their bodies into submission to get them to do what they wanted.  He was impressed by the perseverance, even the pain required for them to achieve their goal.  It reminded him of the kind of perseverance, commitment and discipline that is needed to make something of our lives.  The main difference is that in the Olympics, only the winners get the prizes.  In the human race, in the pursuit of excellence, the opportunity to be winners, to fulfil our potential, is theoretically there for all of us.

 

That does not mean that we are all going to get gold.   It is too easy these days to be misled into thinking that making something of your life is going to be measured by how much success, wealth, power or celebrity you have achieved.  In another place, one that is far better known, St Paul points us to a more excellent way.

 

The ‘hymn to love’, as it is often called, is still read at many church weddings but it applies to all aspects of life, not just the marriage relationship.  Without love, he says, we are nothing.  It is love and not goodness or virtue that lies at the heart of the Christian understanding of life.  It is love and not codes of conduct and good practice that brings healing and restoration to individuals and society.  It is love that brings us closest to God who is the source of love.

 

Special events during July and August

 

Cream Tea and Ancient Windows - Sunday 8th July at 3.00 pm

Doddiscombsleigh Church has been designated one of Devon’s Fifty Best Churches mainly because of the famous medieval windows that are the most remarkable in Devon outside of Exeter Cathedral.  On Sunday 8th July, Tim Gorringe of Exeter University is coming along to explain them to us in the context of a few popular hymns and a Cream Tea in the beautiful surroundings of Doddi Churchyard.  All are welcome.

 

Sung Compline – Sunday 5th August at 6.00 pm - Christow

Sometimes we need something more quiet and reflective and the ancient service of Sung Compline has proved quite popular over the last couple of years.  This year it’s on Sunday 5th August at 6.00 pm in Christow Church.  All are welcome.

 

Group Choral Evensong – Sunday 19th August at Bridford at 6.30 pm

It may be surprising how many people still enjoy Prayer Book Evensong, not necessarily all the time, but on occasions especially when we have a choir to lead the singing.  We hold these two or three times a year and all are welcome to come along to Bridford Church on August 19th at 6.30 pm.

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their summer meetings as follows:

Doddiscombsleigh – Wednesday 12th July at 7.30 pm at Oakley

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

June 10th               Mya and Jamie Dukes (Christow)

Weddings

May 26th               Christopher Roberts and Joanna Wilson (Christow)

                             Justin and Mary-Jane Forbes (Blessing at Ashton)

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

 

 

 

June

If you are one of those people who are waiting for some kind of proof as to whether God exists or not then there is no point in you looking for it in the Bible.  The nearest the Bible gets to discussing the existence of God is in two identical Psalms – 14 and 53 – and all that we read there is that it is only the foolish who say in their hearts that there is no God’.

 

Of course, it is not uncommon in our lives for our heads to say one thing and for our hearts to say something quite different.  So the Bible does not say that you are foolish if you have doubts or if you question in your mind the goodness, power or existence of God.  It can often be really difficult to justify rationally and logically the goodness, power and existence of God in the face of what we see happening around us or in our own lives.

 

The Bible is also full of people who do not understand God, who get angry with God, who get impatient and frustrated with God, who argue with God.  Some people feel that they would just like to get God on his own, perhaps in a locked church, and ask him to explain himself, to try and understand how it all looks from his point of view.

 

Some of you may also have come across this interview with God that was brought to one of our churches recently.  It made such an impact that it was suggested that it would be good to give it a wider circulation.  Nobody seems to know who wrote it but this is how it goes.  It is called ‘The Interview with God’:

 

Last night I dreamed that I had an interview with God.  "Come in," said God. "So, you would like to interview me?"

 

"If you have the time," I said.  God smiled and said: "My time is eternity - enough to do everything.  So what questions do you have in mind?"

 

"What surprises you most about humankind?"  I said.

 

God answered: "That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up, and then long to be children again; that they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health; that by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present so they end up living neither for the present nor the future; that they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived"

 

God’s hands took mine and we were silent for a while and then I asked: "As a parent, what are some of life’s lessons you want your children to learn?"

 

God replied with a smile: "To learn that they cannot make anyone love them.  What they can do is to let themselves be loved.  To learn that what is most valuable is not what they have in their lives, but who they have in their lives.  To learn that a rich person is not the one who has the most, but is one who needs the least.  To learn that money can buy everything but happiness.

“To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others.  To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and that it takes many years to heal them.  To learn that there are persons that love them dearly, but simply do not know how to express or show their feelings.  To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness and to learn that it is not always enough to forgive one another, but that they have to forgive themselves..”

 

“To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it totally differently.  To learn that a true friend is someone who knows everything about them and likes them anyway."

 

I sat there for a moment.  “Thank you for your time”, I said humbly.  “Is there anything else you would like your children to know.”  God smiled and said: Just know that I am here…always.”

 

Special events during June and July

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee - Sunday 3rd June

There will be special services to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee on Sunday 3rd June:

w  A special Jubilee Family Service at Dunsford Church at 10.00 am

w  Group Diamond Jubilee Service at Christow Church at 11.00 am

 

Ashton Church Concert - Saturday 16th June at 7.30 pm and

Ashton Sunday Special – Sunday 17th June at 11.30 am

This month we look forward to another visit by the St George’s Singers led by one-time Ashtonian George Horrell.  They are coming all the way from Bournemouth for a Concert in Ashton Church on Saturday 16th June at 7.30 pm and a Sunday Praise on 17th June at 11.30 am.

 

Cream Tea and Ancient Windows - Sunday 8th July at 3.00 pm

Doddiscombsleigh Church has been designated one of Devon’s Fifty Best Churches mainly because of the famous medieval windows that are the most remarkable in Devon outside of Exeter Cathedral.  On Sunday 8th July, Tim Gorringe of Exeter University is coming along to explain them to us in the context of a few popular hymns and a Cream Tea in the beautiful surroundings of Doddi Churchyard.  All are welcome.

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their summer meetings as follows:

Ashton – Thursday 14th June at 2.00 pm at George Teign Barton

Bridford – Wednesday 18th July at 2.00 pm at Connetts Cottage

Christow – Wednesday 20th June at 7.45 pm in Church

Doddiscombsleigh – Wednesday 12th July at 7.30 pm at Oakley

Dunchideock – Monday 18th June at 7.30 pm at Christow Rectory

Dunsford – Wednesday 13th June at 7.30 pm at Wood View

 

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

April 22nd             William Lerwill (Dunsford)

May 6th                 Amy Phipps (Dunsford)

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

 

 

 

May

It was timed to be out for the Easter holiday weekend, the 3-D version of the film ‘Titanic’, re-mastered and re-energised to coincide with the centenary of one of the most appalling shipping disasters of all time.  If you have seen it with 3-D glasses on, it would have almost felt like you were really there yourself.  You would feel what it was like to be among the rich and mighty, of whom 123 died, or slumming it down in third-class steerage where 528 died or even down among the 29 boilers that drove the ship along at an impressive 24 mph, where 176 men hand-shovelled 600 tones of coal into the furnaces every day, most of whom would have been among the 696 crew members who died on that ill-fated voyage.

 

Put on the glasses and you would have had an unforgettable view of the iceberg that cut into the side of the liner flooding through what should have been watertight bulkheads and, of course, the passionate love scene between Leonardo Dicaprio and a younger scantily clad and seductive Kate Wimsett.  There were no scenes of such a nature back in 1958 when the first Titanic disaster movie ‘A Night to Remember’ appeared in dramatic black and white.  No love scene in those days for the main character, played by Kenneth More as a ship’s officer all heroic and stiff upper lip directing the desperately inadequate lifeboat operation on the upper deck.

 

The interest in this story seems unfading.  It’s a story of deep irony and tragedy, the greatest passenger liner ever built, nicknamed the unsinkable as she appeared to be on paper and would have been but for the unpredictable factor of human error, human pride and human arrogance that would cost, not only her owners and insurers, but the lives of so many people so dearly, both those who died and those who survived them.  With a more recent cruise ship disaster fresh in our memories, equally avoidable and equally the result of human error, the fatal flaw in our human makeup once again comes to the fore.  This is surely one of the things that draws us to the Titanic story: the bitter irony that so many should suffer because of the failing of one man.

 

Such a reflection might bring back to mind one of the earliest stories that we find in the Bible.  It is difficult to imagine a time when humankind might have lived in a state of perfection, in a perfect world, in which not only humankind but the whole of creation operated in total harmony with the will and purposes of the Creator God.  It is difficult to take that story at its face value if only because, at the same time, we would have to believe that in the very beginning God created every form of life as we know them today.  Unless you are a blind follower of literal creationism, we now know that such an idea flies in the face of all scientific evidence and is therefore manifestly untrue.  Genesis was not intended to be a conveyor of historical or scientific truth.  Genesis, like much of the world’s literature, uses story, myth, poetry, and legend to convey a different kind of truth.

 

So in Genesis we find a story of about the first man and the first woman being tricked into disobeying God’s command and being expelled from the garden, cut off from God, condemned to toil, hardship and death.  In this mythological drama, the whole of the human predicament is laid at the feet of the one man and the one woman that we call Adam and Eve.  It is a primitive story and the way it has been used and misused over the centuries has not helped, but St Paul found it a very useful resource for explaining his understanding of the Cross.  Just like Adam, we find ourselves cut off from God, separated by our sin and disobedience, our faults and imperfections. But in Christ, God has provided a way back and the good news is that, through faith in Christ, we can enter into a personal loving relationship with God and all that separates us from a loving Father God has been dealt with by Christ on the Cross.

 

We find ourselves today living in a culture where faith and religion have become very much a personal thing.  The idea that a particular faith may express an objective truth about ourselves, our lives and the world we live in, is not really acceptable.  And yet this is the claim that we hear Jesus making, for example, when he stands on trial before Pilate in St John’s Passion Story.  After his interrogation by the Jewish High Priest, Jesus is taken to Pilate, politically the most powerful man in Judea and representative of the all-powerful Roman Emperor.  But Jesus is not there to challenge his political power and he resists being labelled as the King of the Jews, as if he were a rival political claimant, as if he were setting himself up in defiance of the Roman authorities.  Instead he tells Pontius Pilate what he was born for.  He tells Pontius Pilate that he was in the world to testify to the truth.

 

As we see only too often, in public political figures show little if any interest in questions of truth.  They do not do God and they do not do truth.  And so Pilate asks: What is truth?  But the longer he is with Jesus the more he feels afraid. As readers of the story, we know that Jesus is walking the path of total obedience.  He is not some kind of superhuman figure untouched by the challenges of human life or the test of suffering, but rather a fully human person developing his obedience through suffering to the point of perfection so that, having been made perfect, he will be the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.  If this is true, it cannot just be a matter of personal faith. If there are benefits to what Christ has endured on the Cross, then we can only believe that they can apply to all people at all time.

 

Special events during May and June

This month we are in the midst of the Easter season that leads to our Thanksgiving for the Ascension of Jesus, the Celebration of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and finally Trinity Sunday when we affirm our experience of God as Father, Son and Spirit – God who creates, redeems and empowers.

 

Ascension Day – Thursday 17th May – 7.30 pm Ashton

There will be a Group Eucharist to celebrate Ascension Day at Ashton at 7.30 pm.

 

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee - Sunday 3rd June

There will be special services to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee on Sunday 3rd June:

w  Family Service at Dunsford Church at 10.00 am

w  Jubilee Service at Christow Church at 11.00 am

 

Archdeacons’ Visitation 2012

This year’s service with our new Archdeacon, Christopher Futcher, will be on Monday 14th May at 7.30 pm at Exeter Cathedral.  All are welcome.

 

Deanery Synod

There will be a meeting of the Deanery Synod on Wednesday 23rd May at 7.30 pm at Powderham Church.  The guest speaker is Dr John Searle on ‘Ethical Dilemmas’.

 

Group Council

There will be a meeting of the Group Council on Thursday 10th May at 7.30 pm at George Teign Barton.

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their summer meetings as follows:

Ashton – Thursday 14th June at 2.00 pm at George Teign Barton

Bridford – Wednesday 18th July at 2.00 pm at Connetts Cottage

Christow – Wednesday 20th June at 7.45 pm in Church

Doddiscombsleigh – Wednesday 12th July at 7.30 pm at Oakley

Dunchideock – Monday 18th June at 7.30 pm at Christow Rectory

Dunsford – Wednesday 13th June at 7.30 pm at Wood View

 

From The Registers

Funerals

March 10th            Jean Rowcliffe (Interment of Ashes at Dunsford)

March 31st            John Powlesland (Interment of Ashes at Doddiscombsleigh)

                             Caryl Powlesland (Interment of Ashes at Doddiscombsleigh)

April 2nd               Tony Hodson (Doddiscombsleigh)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

 

April

At some point in the next two or three years, it seems quite likely, perhaps almost certain, that there will be Acts of Parliament enabling women to become bishops in the Church of England and allowing people of the same sex to become partners in marriage.

 

For some people these proposals are highly contentious and yet, if we could look ahead another forty or fifty years, by then it may well seem unthinkable that anyone could ever have opposed these developments.  When historians in the future look back to our day, they may simply be part of a long list of the reforms and social changes that took place in the second Elizabethan era, reforms and changes that many of us have seen come to pass in our lifetimes.

 

In the last sixty years, we have seen the end of racial segregation and discrimination, the widespread availability of divorce and legal abortion, the acceptance without stigma of childbirth and cohabitation outside of marriage, the abolition of capital punishment - just to name a few – and they are all now deeply embedded in our culture.  We would think no more seriously of reversing them than of returning to the days of slavery and public floggings.

 

What we also know is that, as each issue comes up for debate and consideration, the voices that argue for reform and change are always accompanied by the voices that resist and oppose them.  That is probably how it ought to be.  A healthy debate and process of decision-making needs a system of checks and balances.  We need people to oppose as well as to propose.  The result is that many of us end up taking one side or the other.  It would be nice to think that our opinions were always based on rational argument.  The truth is that our views are just as likely to be determined by our emotions, our upbringing, our personal experience and prejudices, even perhaps by our genetic, cerebral and physical make-up.

 

In a society such as ours, we usually learn to agree to differ and the majority view carries the day.  Difficulties occur when faith and religious belief comes into the picture.  It is not easy to argue with someone who cannot accept something for reasons of conscience, who believes that the authority for their viewpoint comes from God himself.  It is not easy to deal with people who convert their viewpoint and convictions into action because they believe that they are doing God’s will.

 

Some of the horrors of the past – the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery and racial apartheid – have all been justified as conforming to the will of God as revealed in Holy Scripture.  And in the eyes of many, the last sixty years have witnessed a gradual loosening up and shaking off of the oppressive and often cruel practices and restrictions that damaged and destroyed many people’s lives in the past.  Sometimes the Christian Church has been at the forefront of these changes, with its pioneering work in education, healthcare and relief for the poor.  Sometimes the Church has found it hard to keep up with changes that other sections of society are promoting, especially in matters of personal relationships and sexual behaviour.

As soon as you pick one of the New Testament Gospels and start to read the story of Jesus, you very quickly become aware of the conflict that was building between Jesus and the religious authorities of his day.  Time and again Jesus challenges religious traditions and a pattern of living that have lost touch with the core principles and beliefs from which those traditions and teachings originally derived.  Time and again the religious leaders watched to see if Jesus would break their laws by healing on the Sabbath or by mixing with sick, diseased or immoral people that they considered unclean.

 

The gospels portray Jesus as speaking and acting with the authority and power of God and yet he challenges the self-proclaimed representatives of God on earth.  He touches lepers, mixes with beggars and prostitutes, fulfilling the programme that he announced of releasing the captives, setting people free of their burdens, liberating them from captivity to disease and social stigma.  He proclaims forgiveness of sins and warns us not to judge or condemn one another or else expect to be judged and condemned ourselves.  He invites us to turn to God and to have faith so that we might be set free to live, and to live abundantly.

 

The story of Holy Week and Easter that we shall be revisiting in the first week of April tells how Jesus remained obedient to God and faithful to his vision even when he knew that his opponents were plotting to kill him.  We shall hear how the religious leaders engineered his execution by one of the most brutal means ever devised.  Even so his vision and obedience remained undefeated.  In stories that we shall never fully understand, at least in this life, his appointed followers experienced a continuation of his life in their lives.  Their minds were fully opened to the truths that he proclaimed and the deeds of power, the setting free of captives, that he performed in his short life were bequeathed to be continued and worked at in future generations such as ours.

 

Celebrating Holy Week and Easter

 

Palm Sunday – 1st April

Palm Crosses will be blessed and given out at all services:

Bridford at 8.30 am – Holy Communion (BCP)

Dunsford at 10.00 am – Family Service

Doddiscombsleigh at 10.00 am – Parish Communion

          Dunsford at 6.30 pm – Group Choral Evensong (BCP)

At Doddiscombsleigh (morning) and Dunsford (evening), there will be a dramatised reading of the Passion Story in the version of St Mark

 

Maundy Thursday – 5th April

Commemoration of the Last Supper – Group Eucharist at Christow at 7.30 pm

 

Good Friday – 6th April

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion - Group Service at Christow at 10.00 am

 

Easter Day – 8th April

Early morning Easter Communion (BCP) – Bridford at 8.30 am

Easter Celebrations with Communion - Ashton / Christow / Dunchideock / Dunsford - and with Morning Prayer at Doddiscombsleigh – all at 10.00 am.

 

Annual Church Meetings

All parishioners are invited to attend our Annual Church Meetings:

Ashton                          Monday 23rd April at 2.30 pm in the Village Hall

Bridford                        Wednesday 18th April at 2.00 pm in Church

Dunchideock                 Monday 16th April at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall

Dunsford                       Wednesday 25th April at 7.30 pm in Church

All nominations for Churchwardens and PCC members should be made before the meetings using lists at the back of our churches.

 

Archdeacons’ Visitation 2012

This year’s service with our new Archdeacon, Christopher Futcher, will be on Monday 14th May at 7.30 pm at Exeter Cathedral.  All are welcome.

 

Time is running out

We are hoping that Unity will be able to continue beyond the next six months but it very such hinges on finding a new editor or team of editors to take over in the autumn.  If you think you might be interested, please get in touch.  Mike and June Piggott have been handling the finances, the advertising and the editorship of the magazine for quite a while and have earned their retirement.  They also have a wealth of experience to pass on.  While this is a monthly commitment throughout the year, it could be shared out among more people.  Unity provides a highly valued means of communication in our villages and the surrounding area, for our churches as well as many local groups and organisations as well as the advertisers and many individuals, so it would be shame to see it come to an end.  If you would like to see it continue and think you might like to help with this, please get in touch now.

 

From The Registers

Funerals

February 24th                  Ernie Beer (Dunsford)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

 

Graham Mayer

March

Services in the Teign Valley & Haldon Hill Churches

Ashton ~ Bridford ~ Christow ~ Doddicombsleigh ~ Dunchideock ~ Dunsford

 

March

Bridford

Christow

Ashton

Doddisc’sleigh

Dunchideock

Dunsford

 

4

Lent 2

8.30

Holy Communion at Bridford

BCP

10.00

Parish Communion at Doddiscombsleigh

Order 1

10.00

Family Service

 

11

Lent 3

10.00

Parish Communion at Bridford

Order 1

10.00

Parish Communion at Dunchideock

Order 1 (Trad)

8.30

Holy Communion

Order 1 (Trad)

 

18

Lent 4

Mothering

Sunday

8.30

Holy Communion at Christow

BCP

 

10.00

Parish Communion at Dunchideock

Order 1

10.00

Mothering

Sunday

Family

Service

10.00

Mothering Sunday Service at Ashton

 

Summer Time Begins

25

Lent 5

10.00

Parish Communion at Christow                                 Order 1

8.30

Holy Communion at Doddiscombsleigh

BCP

8.30

Holy Communion

BCP

10.00

Parish Communion

Order 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March

During the short and sharply cold days of late January and early February, I found myself learning quite a bit about the habits of our avian friends.  Having been given some bird-feeding apparatus by way of Christmas presents, cages and structures on which to hang fat-filled coconut shells along with the usual nut and seed holders, I decided to try out some of the amazing variety of seeds and other goodies that are on offer for our garden birds to enjoy.

 

The result was that I spent more time gazing into the garden from my study window than at the computer screen on my desk.  Greenfinches, chaffinches, bull-finches and goldfinches all gathered in abundance along with the tits that come in a number of shapes and sizes: great tits, blue tits, coal tits and long-tailed tits, plus the occasional woodpecker or nuthatch.

 

They say that birds of a feather flock together but I have noticed that, while some birds like long-tailed and goldfinches are content to feed side by side, others are not.  The biggest bully is the male bullfinch who requires a whole dish to himself and sees everyone else off even though there is plenty of space and plenty of food to share.

 

On winter mornings, the working day in my garden seemed to begin around nine o’clock when they started arriving from wherever they had spent the night.  I’ve no idea how far they commute each day from their roosting grounds, how long they spend limbering up or primping their feathers before they appear in public.  Or maybe they just stay tucked up as long as possible before setting out – give the sun a chance to warm up the air before they take off.  The fact is that I have no idea where they are or what they are doing most of the time.  Even with all our camera technology, infra-red beams or just hours of patient bird-watching, we know relatively little about the secret personal life of the many and diverse creatures that live around us and with us.

 

That is generally true of our lives as well.  The people who know us best are usually the people we live with.  When it comes to everyone else, for the most part we only catch a glimpse, a fleeting snatch, of the secret personal life of the people we work with, the people we interact with and bump up against in the course of our daily lives.

 

It’s a bit like that when we follow the life of Jesus in the gospels.  In Mark’s gospel that we dip into quite a bit in church this year, Jesus is a particularly elusive and secret figure, as if he does not want people to know who he is.  So, for example, after spending an evening at his friend’s house in Capernaum, with people queuing at the door to be cured of various diseases or with demons to be cast out, the following morning when it is still dark, he takes off.  He finds a deserted place where he can be along and pray.  Naturally, back in town, when they all wake up to find him gone, they go hunting for him, but Jesus does not want to go back. He wants to press on and go to other places in Galilee, to proclaim his message about the kingdom of God and to cast out more demons.

 

They say actions speak louder than words and this is certainly true in Mark’s gospel.  Apart from learning that Jesus’s message was about the kingdom of God, the end of Satan’s rule, we have no idea what he actually said.  What we do get is Jesus putting his message into action, taking the battle against evil out into his daily work and ministry, bringing health, release and wholeness to those who are suffering.

 

There are places in the world even today where people think of illness and disability in terms of demons or unclean spirits.  We may think we are far removed from them, far better informed about the working of the human body, about the true causes of disease, about the source of the conditions that can have such a devastating impact on people’s lives.  We are certainly better equipped to care, cure and to a certain extent to prevent some illnesses and conditions from taking hold.  We know a lot more than we used to, but we are a long way from knowing it all.  We may not believe in demons or unclean spirits, but that lack of belief does not make evil go away.

There is also plenty of evil in the ways that people treat one another.  All over the world, both near and far away, people are damaged, exploited and victimised - in abuse, in human trafficking, in forced marriages, in predatory economic activity and in profligate profiteering.  Our faith is that the Creator God, who in the beginning commanded the light to shine out of the primeval darkness, sent his Son to proclaim the defeat of evil and the coming of God’s rule or kingdom.  That is the essence of the gospel, the good news that Mark captures for us in his gospel.

 

As we read the gospel, we see signs suggesting that Jesus always knew his time was going to be limited.  But he also knew that when the time came to finish, it would be in God’s time and so the time that he spent on his own in prayer was absolutely crucial to discovering God’s plan and purposes.  The path of obedience would take him to his greatest trial and unimaginable suffering - but also to a decisive, once for all victory over the power of evil in this world, good news for all people in all times and in all places. 

 

Looking ahead

Women’s World Day of Prayer -  Friday 2nd March 2.30 pm – at Christow

This year the ‘Women’s World Day of Prayer’ service will be held at Christow Church on Friday 2nd March. 

 

Dunsford Church Extension – Open Afternoon – Saturday 10th March from 3.00 pm -

Bishop Bob to open and bless the new facilities

With the work nearly completed on the new kitchen and toilet in Dunsford Church, we have invited Bishop Bob to come and dedicate the new facilities.  There will be an Open Afternoon on Saturday 10th March from 3.00 pm onwards and everyone from our valley churches is welcome to come along and see the lovely new kitchen at Dunsford and enjoy a cup of tea and cake.

In the course of the afternoon, around 4.15– 4.30 pm, Bishop Bob will arrive and lead the Dedication and Blessing of the new facilities.

The only slight hold-up to the project has been the connection to the mains drains.  As the road will have to be closed while the new drainage connection is made, and to avoid as much disruption as possible, this cannot be done until the Easter holidays.  However the kitchen area is already beginning to be used and so we do not want to delay the official opening any longer!

 

Mothering Sunday – 18th March at 10.00 am – Ashton and Dunsford

Mothering Sunday falls this year on 18th March and there will be special Mothering Sunday Services for all our villages at Ashton and Dunsford Churches at 10.00 am.  All are welcome.

 

Palm Sunday – Group Choral Evensong at Dunsford – Sunday 1st April at 6.30 pm

In addition to our normal services, there will be a Group Choral Evensong at Dunsford on Palm Sunday with a dramatic reading of the Passion Gospel according to St Mark.

 

Lent Course 2012

This year at our church services, most of our gospel readings are taken from Mark.  This is the shortest and, in some ways, the most puzzling of the gospels.  Jesus comes across as dramatically powerful and confrontational but, at the same time, highly mysterious and secretive.  For this reason, Mark’s Jesus was portrayed in medieval manuscript as a bounding lion, as a beast of conflict.  We shall explore this at our five sessions on Thursdays during Lent starting on March 1st, either mornings 10.30 – 12.00 at The Spinney, Bridford, by kind invitation of Francis and Daphne Leversedge or in the evenings 7.45 – 9.15 at The Rectory in Christow.

 

Lent Lunches

In Dunsford Lent Lunches are being held on Mondays at 12.30 pm at The Walled Garden.  

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their meetings as follows:

Doddiscombsleigh – Wednesday 7th March at 7.30 pm at Oakley

Bridford - Wednesday 14th March at 2.00 pm at The Spinney

 

Archdeacons’ Visitation 2011

This year’s service with our new Archdeacon, Christopher Futcher, will be on Monday 14th May at 7.30 pm at Exeter Cathedral.  All are welcome.

 

Annual Church Meetings

All parishioners are invited to attend our Annual Church Meetings:

Ashton                                    Monday 23rd April at 2.30 pm in the Village Hall

Bridford                                 Wednesday 18th April at 2.00 pm in Church

Christow                                 Wednesday 21st March at 7.30 pm in Church

Dunchideock                          Monday 16th April at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall

Dunsford                                Wednesday 25th April at 7.30 pm in Church

All nominations for Churchwardens and PCC members should be made before the meetings using lists at the back of our churches.  Nominations are also invited for Deanery Synod to serve for the next three years.  Anyone on the Church’s Electoral Roll is eligible for election.

 

Church Electoral Roll Revision

This year the Church Electoral Rolls are being fully revised.  If you would like to be on your church roll, then you need to complete one of the forms that are available in church or from your Electoral Roll Officer.    

 

Vacancy - new Editors for Unity required

Mike and June Piggott have now been associated with the production of Unity for the past ten years, with responsibilities for the finances, the advertising and the editorship of the magazine.  This is a monthly commitment throughout the year and between them they have done a marvellous job for which many of us are extremely grateful.  They have now given us generous notice and wish to hand over at some point during the next seven months.  Unity provides a highly valued means of communication for our local churches, groups and organisations as well as individuals.  If you would like to know more about what is involved, please get in touch with myself or with Mike Piggott, and we will happily put you in the picture without any obligation.

 

From The Registers

Confirmation

The following were confirmed by the Bishop of Crediton at Dunsford Parish Church on 29th January:

            John Gray (Dunsford)

            Julian Hofmann (Ashton)

            Juliet Hofmann (Ashton)

            Ruth Lemon (Ashton)

            Helena Sewell (Christow)

            Tom Sewell (Christow)

            Chloe Sharland (Dunsford)

            Megan Sharland (Dunsford)

            George Todd (Dunsford)

            Olivia Todd (Dunsford)

            Portia Watson (Doddiscombsleigh)

            Andrew Wise (Christow)

            Sarah Wise (Christow)

Funerals

Feburary 13th               Alan Bussey (Doddiscombsleigh)

February 16th               Derek Williams (Bridford) at Exeter Crematorium

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Getting in touch

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

                                                                                                                        Graham Mayer

 

 

February

If you were to ask the average person in the street who they would name as the three wise men of our day, I wonder who they would choose?  I suspect they might think of David Attenborough, Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox.  If you have been following Brian Cox’s programmes on TV you will know all about the makeup of the universe. You will understand about things like atoms, protons, electrons and neutrons.  You will have learned all about neutrinos possibly flying faster than light and be aware of the elusive Higgs Boson. You will know how the universe was created from nothing in a fraction of a second, how gravity works and all about planets, galaxies, stars, black holes and super novae.  You will replace the words of the traditional nursery rhyme with:

Twinkle twinkle little star.

Now we all know what you are.

Lumps of silver, streaks of tin,

sulphuretted hydrogin!

 

We often hear that science can explain everything so there is no room for God any more.  Stephen Hawking regards God as simply unnecessary, to be consigned to a rubbish heap of mediaeval myths.  The fact is that the more scientists find out about how we, the world and the universe came to into being, the more they realise how little we really know.  However far the boundaries of knowledge are pushed back, there is always more to be discovered and more questions to be asked.

 

In his TV programme, Brian Cox illustrated the structure of a very simple atom in some pretty startling terms.  If we were to imagine that the nucleus were the size of an apple then, on the same scale, its electrons would be the size of grains of dust going round it about a kilometre away.  All the space in between would be precisely that - just empty space.  At least, that is what present knowledge tells us - but, as they say, watch this space!

 

We know that all matter is made up of atoms which themselves are made up of quarks, electrons and neutrinos and, as the search goes on, so more and more particles keep getting discovered.  Among these is the elusive Higgs Boson, popularly known as “The God particle”, which they are hoping finally to identify at CERN under the Swiss mountain sometime this year.

 

When we go back to the mythological account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis, it is remarkable how much it has in common with current scientific theory.  The timescale is different but if, as the scientists tell us, there is no such thing as absolute time, what is the difference between 13.75 billion years and 6 days anyway?

 

Genesis tells us that in the beginning, when God created the Heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep.  So before the big bang, there was nothing at all.  Then God said “Let there be light” – there would certainly have been an awful lot of light when the Big Bang occurred.

 

When stars and planets formed from the disseminated cloud of matter in the universe, they circled each other and spun on their axes so that each side of Earth was alternatively facing the sun or in darkness.  Or as Genesis tells us: “God separated the light from the dark and called the light day and the dark night”.

 

As continental plates moved, some areas sunk lower and the sea filled the space, other areas were raised up to form land and mountains where the plates collided.  Genesis agrees: “Let the water be gathered into one place and let dry ground appear”.

 

Many scientists have had no problem reconciling the evidence of science with the insights of faith.  A well-known example is Max Planck who founded the theory of Quantum Mechanics, on which much of modern science is based, and won the 1918 Nobel prize for physics.  He was a committed Christian and an elder in the Lutheran church.  When the Belgian mathematician and Roman Catholic priest, Georges Lemaître, first proposed the big bang theory in 1933, Albert Einstein stood to applaud him and said: “This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened”.

 

It’s probably safe to say that no one will ever be able to prove or disprove the existence of God.  Like many things in life, that will always remain a matter of faith rather than certainty.  This does not mean that we have to follow those who want the story of creation in Genesis to be taught in schools as a literal truth.  We have been given powers of observation and reasoning and the intelligence to work things out for ourselves.  But to catch the glimpses of God in scientific discovery as well as in our daily lives, we have to take the step of faith first.

 

The above article is based on a sermon preached by John Lund at Doddiscombsleigh on the First Sunday after the Epiphany.

 

Looking ahead

Group Confirmation Eucharist – Sunday 29th January 11.00 am – at Dunsford

On the last Sunday in January, Bishop Bob is coming to the Teign Valley for his second confirmation service with us, and possibly the last time we shall see him here before he retires this coming October.  About a dozen young people and adults from our parishes have been preparing to be confirmed.  Please note that this service is later than usual at 11.00 am in Dunsford Church.

 

Taizé Style Worship – Christow Church - Sunday 5th February at 6.00 pm

This month we are providing another opportunity to experience worship using music and songs developed by the Taizé Community in France.  The songs and music will be led by our musicians and singers but, for those who wish, it is very easy to join in with the straightforward and often lovely melodies.  We gather in the Chancel and the setting is simple and relaxed.  Between the songs there will be readings, prayers and short periods of silence for reflection.  

 

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday 22nd February at 10.00 am in Christow / 7.30 pm in Dunchideock

As in previous years, to get Lent off to a start, there will be Ash Wednesday services at Christow at 10.00 in the morning and at Dunchideock at 7.30 in the evening.

 

This year’s Lent course: Thursday mornings or evenings from 1st March

This year at our church services, most of our gospel readings are taken from Mark.  This is the shortest and, in some ways, the most puzzling of the gospels.  Jesus comes across as dramatically powerful and confrontational but, at the same time, highly mysterious and secretive.  For this reason, Mark’s Jesus has traditionally been portrayed as a stealthy but roaring lion.  We shall explore this at our five sessions on Thursdays during Lent starting on March 1st, either mornings 10.30 – 12.00 or evenings 7.30 – 9.00.  We meet in the mornings at The Spinney, Bridford, by kind invitation of Francis and Daphne Leversedge and in the evenings at a venue to be arranged.

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their meetings as follows:

Dunsford – Wednesday 1st February at 7.30 pm at 9 Brownings Mead

Dunchideock – Monday 6th February at 7.30 pm at Christow Rectory

Ashton - Thursday 9th February at 2.00 pm at George Teign Barton

Christow – Monday 20th February at 7.45 pm at Christow Rectory

Doddiscombsleigh – Wednesday 7th March at 7.30 pm at Oakley

Bridford - Wednesday 14th March at 2.00 pm at The Spinney

 

Deanery Synod

Deanery Synod representatives are reminded of their meeting on Thursday 23rd February at 7.30 pm at St Paul’s Church, Starcross.  The guest speaker is Canon Andrew Godsall on the proposed Anglican Covenant that is due to be voted on at General Synod this year.

 

New Editors for Unity

Mike and June Piggott have now been associated with the production of Unity for the past ten years, with responsibilities for the finances, the advertising and the editorship of the magazine.  This is a monthly commitment throughout the year and between them they have done a marvellous job for which many of us are extremely grateful.  They have now given us generous notice and wish to hand over at some point during the next eight months.  Unity provides a highly valued means of communication for our local churches, groups and organisations as well as individuals.  If you would like to know more about what is involved, please get in touch with myself or with Mike Piggott, and we will happily put you in the picture without any obligation.

 

From The Registers

Funerals

December 23rd             Ann Davies (Interment of Ashes at Doddiscombsleigh)

January 16th                 Nghare (‘Jan’) Greenslade

                                    (Thanksgiving and Interment of Ashes at Doddiscombsleigh)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Getting in touch

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

                                                                                                          Graham Mayer

 

 

January

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings – here are some results from a recent survey among primary age children on the subject of love.  It produced some rather touching and amazing insights and I thought that we might sample a few to take us into the New Year.

 

·        When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore.  So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love. (Rebecca- age 8 )

·        Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. (Bobby - age 7)

·        Love is when Mummy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken. (Elaine-age 5)

·        Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.  (Terri - age  4 )

·        When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You just know that your name is safe in their mouth. (Billy - age 4)

·        Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. (Emily - age 8)

·        Finally the story of a four year old whose next door neighbour was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.  Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed on his lap, and just sat there.
When his Mother asked what he had said to him, the little boy said,
"Nothing, I just helped him cry"

 

What wisdom we find in the young!  Now we turn to a old farmer for some more thoughts to ponder on as we go into the New Year.

 

  • Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
  • Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
  • A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
  • Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.
  • Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.
  • Forgive your enemies.  It messes up their heads.
  • It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.
  • You cannot unsay a cruel word.
  • Every path has a few puddles.
  • When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
  • Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.
  • Don't judge folks by their relatives.
  • Live a good, honourable life.  Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
  • The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'.
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
  • Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.
  • If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
  • Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

 

Getting to Church this Christmas

As many of you receive this magazine before Christmas, here are some reminders:

 

·        Carol Services

Dunchideock - Sunday 18th December at 4.00 pm

ChristowSunday 18th December at 6.30 pm

Dunsford – Sunday 18th December at 6.30 pm

Doddiscombsleigh – Monday 19th December at 7.30 pm

– once again taking the form of a Village Nativity with Carols

Bridford – Christmas Eve, 24th December at 6.00 pm

 

·        Crib Services

Dunsford – Christmas Eve, 24th December at 4.00 pm

 

·        Midnight Eucharists

Ashton/Doddiscombsleigh/Dunchideock/Dunsford – Christmas Eve at 11.30 pm

 

·        Christmas Morning Services

Christow – Family Communion at 10.00 am

Dunsford – Family Service at 10.00 am

 

Looking back to Christmas

You may read this before Christmas is over, but thank you to those who have worked hard to prepare and decorate our churches for the Christmas services – with trees, flowers, candles, cribs and everything else that combines to provide a seasonal atmosphere for our worship.  Thank you also to who have played, read or provided any other special input into our Christingle, Crib and Carol Services.  At a busy time of year, all this extra work and time that is given is much appreciated.  Thank you also to our Bell Ringers – not just at Christmas – but for their time and commitment throughout the year that are appreciated by so many.

 

The Month Ahead

Group Confirmation Service – Sunday 29th January at 11.00 am - Dunsford

On the last Sunday in January, Bishop Bob is coming to the Teign Valley for his second confirmation service with us, and probably the last time we shall see him here before he retires this coming October.  A group of seven young people from our parishes and a number of adults have been preparing to be confirmed.  Please note that this service is later than usual at 11.00 am in Dunsford Church.

 

New Year’s Day

There will only be one service in the Group on Sunday 1st January – a Group Sung Eucharist at Christow at 10.00 am.

 

Service Pattern during January

Since New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, we are treating 8th January as the First Sunday of the month, with 15th and 22nd as the Second and Third respectively.  Please refer to the Service Schedule on/inside the back cover for full details.

 

Group Council

The next meeting of the Group Council is on Thursday 12th January at 7.30 pm at George Teign Barton, Higher Ashton

 

New Editors for Unity

Mike and June Piggott have now been associated with the production of Unity for the past ten years, with responsibilities for the finances, the advertising and the editorship of the magazine.  This is a monthly commitment throughout the year and between them they have done a marvellous job for which many of us are extremely grateful.  They have now given us generous notice and wish to hand over at some point during the next nine months.  Unity provides a highly valued means of communication for our local churches, groups and organisations as well as individuals.  If you would like to know more about what is involved, please get in touch with myself or with Mike Piggott, and we will happily put you in the picture without any obligation.

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

December 4th        Irah May Hoskin (Bridford)

Weddings

November 26th      Simon Hern and Kate Webber (Dunsford)

December 2nd        Andrew Wise and Sarah Rice (Ashton)

 

Getting in touch

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

                                                                                                Graham Mayer

 

 

 

December

At Christmas time many proud parents and grandparents will find themselves watching the young child or children in their family taking part in a nativity play.  Where permission has been granted in accordance with child protection procedures, cameras and camcorders will be recording the event, and there could well be some lumps in the throat and moisture around the eyes as something quite magical unfolds in the church or school hall.  Whatever chaos or stressful uncertainties may have been taking place offstage immediately prior to the event – lost props, last minute changes in the casting, a disastrous shortage of safety pins – somehow it all comes together and the impact of the whole is certainly greater than the sum of all its parts.

 

Children, usually young children, perform but of course it’s really done for the adults.  When they get their lines wrong, or mispronounce a key word in the story, it all just adds to the charm of it all.  Like at the East London school nativity play where all was going well until the angel appeared and told the little girl playing Mary that she was going to have a baby.  “But how can this be,” said Mary, “since I am a Viking?”

 

At another school, two little girls were heard talking about their roles in the nativity play.  “I’m going to be a virgin,” one of them announced smugly.  “That’s nothing,” replied the other, “I’m going to be an angel.”  With which the first one came back and said: “Well, my mummy says it’s much harder to be a virgin.”

 

I do not suppose that Matthew and Luke imagined for one moment that their stories about the birth of Jesus would one day be acted out by young children.  What we get is usually Luke’s story of the angel visiting Mary, the journey to Bethlehem where the inn was full, the manger and the shepherds.  Matthew’s piece about the wise men is then tacked on at the end.  We do not often see how Joseph reacted when Mary, the girl he was expecting to marry, was suddenly found to be with child.

 

It is Matthew who tells us the story about the birth of Jesus from Joseph’s angle.  It is Matthew who reminds us that Joseph, under Jewish law, should have broken off his betrothal to Mary, divorced her, and exposed her to public disgrace.  Since betrothal was tantamount to marriage, if sexual relations took place with someone else, this was treated as adultery and the usual penalty was death by stoning.  Mary’s position was serious indeed.

 

But Joseph was not so minded.  He was a compassionate man and decided that he was going to divorce her quietly.  That is until he had a dream in which a messenger from God explained exactly what was going on.  The whole experience must have been extraordinarily real because Joseph at once changed his mind.  With a total disregard to any scandal he might cause, he took Mary as his wife along with the child.

 

Many people would want to dismiss the story of the virgin birth – or more precisely the virginal conception – as a miracle too far.  Many committed Christians, even a few bishops, would prefer to remain agnostic about this particular story, and it’s quite reasonable to argue that you can put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ without necessarily taking this story literally.  And yet there are quite a few miraculous births recorded in the Old Testament – not virgin births, but babies born to either barren or elderly women.  So if the power of God was able to perform a little fertility therapy with these ladies, you might think that to do the same again with someone much younger would not be out of the question.

 

Far more important is what Matthew and Luke clearly intended to convey by telling their story.  The mystery and wonder of God taking on human form, however it happened, are powerfully captured in both these stories.  No wonder it touches our hearts when we see young children conveying the mystery and wonder to us as they surely will again this Christmas, when they act out the story that lies at the core of the Christian faith.

Getting to Church this Christmas

All our village churches offer a full range of services this Christmas:

 

·        Christingle Services

Dunsford – December 4th at 10.00 am

Christow – December 4th at 5.00 pm

Bridford – December 4th at 5.30 pm

Doddiscombsleigh – Thursday 8th December at 6.30 pm

Dunchideock – December 11th at 5.00 pm

 

·        Carol Services

Ashton – Sunday 11th December at 4.00 pm

Dunchideock - Sunday 18th December at 4.00 pm

ChristowSunday 18th December at 6.30 pm

Dunsford – Sunday 18th December at 6.30 pm

Doddiscombsleigh – Monday 19th December at 7.30 pm

– once again taking the form of a Village Nativity with Carols

Bridford – Christmas Eve, 24th December at 6.00 pm

 

·        Crib Services

Dunsford – Christmas Eve, 24th December at 4.00 pm

 

·        Midnight Eucharists

Ashton/Doddiscombsleigh/Dunchideock/Dunsford – Christmas Eve at 11.30 pm

 

·        Christmas Morning Services

Christow – Family Communion at 10.00 am

Dunsford – Family Service at 10.00 am

 

·        New Year’s Day

There will only be one service in the Group on Sunday 1st January – a Group Sung Eucharist at Christow at 10.00 am.

 

Archdeacon Penny – Farewell Service

Last month we learned our Archdeacon, Penny Driver, is moving to a similar post in the diocese of Carlisle, in order to be nearer her family.  Her farewell service will be on Saturday 10th December at 2.30 pm at Holy Trinity Church, Exmouth.

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

November 6th        Toby James Clarke (Christow)

Weddings

October 22nd         Thomas Sommer and Kate Lyon-Smith (Christow)

Funerals

October 31st          The Revd John Godeck (Dunchideock)

November 11th      Anne Davies (Doddiscombsleigh)

We offer our sympathy and prayers to the family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.  Finally, Jackie, Edward and I wish you all a very joyful Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year.

 

                                                                                                         Graham Mayer

November

Many thanks and congratulations to those who have been and will be working hard to bring back a seasonal firework festival to the Teign Valley after a gap of a few years. A properly managed public display is so much more thrilling and safer to watch than anything we could possibly afford to undertake at home in our gardens. So it is really great that we have a number of people prepared to work and provide an eveni for the whole of the Teign Valley.

In some way, it's really amazing to think that, some 400 years or more after the event, many people still want to gather around a bonfire to burn the effigy of a 17th century religious terrorist and celebrate our national deliverance from gunpowder, treason and plot. But, to be honest, that's probably not the main reason why many of us will be heading along to ihe Community Mall and Field in Christow on Saturday 5th November. Fireworks can be hugely enjoyable in their own right, although some pet-owners and others may not fully agree!

Four hundred years is a long lime and so the persistence of this event in our national consciousness and collective memory has to say something about the emotional impact that this narrowly missed attempt to blow up the King and the Houses of Parliament in 1605 had on the people of the day. The shock and the horror were immense, comparable in our day only to the shock, horror and grief created by the air attacks in the United States on September ll"1 2001, the day known all around the world as 9/11. Just like many of us on that day, in 1605 the people of England could no doubt remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when the news of the attempt on the lives of their King and Parliament eventually reached them.

Less than a year after our 5/11 four hundred and six years ago. Parliament passed an Act requiring that 'a Form of Prayer and Thanksgiving be used yearly upon the Fifth Day of November for the happy Deliverance of King James 1 and the Three Estates of England from the most trailerous and bloody-in tended Massacre by Gunpowder'.

Happily this requirement is no longer in force. So in these ecumenical days, we no longer have to refer to the 'Popish treachery' thai plotted to send our rulers 'as sheep to the slaughter, in a most barbarous and savage manner, beyond the examples of former ages'. However the delight in burning a home-made Guy Fawkes on a bonfire still manages to survive, reminding us that public cxceution by fire was once popularly believed to be the only fit punishment for those who dared to deviate from the national religious faith.

In that case, some people might wonder why we still allow this to happen in today's free society. After all, the war in Afghanistan is supposed to be in pan about delivering the world from other forms of religious extremism and tyranny. As a nation we are paying a hefty price for this both in terms of national wealth and resources and also in the loss of human life. This is one of the reasons why on November 13 , the weekend after Bonfire Night, we shall be remembering the men and women who have given their lives, or who have been grievously maimed and traumatised, in this and other conflicts.

As we are all loo well aware, war causes unspeakable harm, destruction and suffering but continues to be a necessary evil in the struggle towards a better world. For nearly a century1, we have been remembering the millions who have suffered and died in this way and we have not needed an act of parliament to make us do it. Many people will wear poppies as a reminder of the blood that has been shed and in the silence we shall have a special opportunity to remember and also to pray for peace.

Special occasions this autumn

Shoebox Sundays - Operation Christmas Child

Bring your shoeboxes to a 10.00 am Service on one of the following: 30th October,   at Ashton 6th November, at Dunsford and Doddiscombsleigh

Leaflets are available for Operation Christmas Child and these are the latest dates for bringing your shoeboxes to church for blessing and collection. Shoeboxes can also be collected in other ways - please contact Annabelle Hofmann, 01647 252961, for further information.

Remembrance Sunday Services - Sunday, 13th November

This year Remembrance Sunday falls on 13th November, and there will be appropriate services with an Act of Remembrance in each of our village churches:


Ashton Bridford


9.30 am Remembrance Sunday Service 10.30 am Remembrance Sunday Service


Doddiscombsleigh 10.50 am Service of Remembrance, followed by ceremony

at the War Memorial

Dunchideock             10.50 am Parish Communion with Act of Remembrance

Dunsford                  10.50 am Service of Remembrance

Christow                   10.55 am Parish Communion with Act of Remembrance

Christingle

Candles, oranges, sweets on sticks and bright red ribbon - it's our first taste of Christmas in church. Be sure to bring your children along to one of our Christingle Services at the beginning of December:

Dunsford               Sunday 4th December at 10.00 am

Christow                Sunday 4th December at 5.00 pm

Bridford                 Sunday 4th December at 5.30 pm

Dunchideock          Sunday llth December at 5.00 pm

Evensong - 20th November - 6.30 pm - now at Dunsford

Please note that Evensong will now be at Dunsford on Sunday, 20th November and not at

Christow as advertised on the back of the cover.

 

Harvest Thanksgiving Services

Thank you to all those who decorated the churches and donated flowers, greenery and produce for our Harvest Thanksgiving Services. Thank you too to all those involved in preparing and serving the lunches and suppers, and in selling the produce. As well as celebrating the good things in life, we were also remembering the needs of others. Generous amounts were raised to send to the appropriate organisations and goods that were not auctioned for this purpose were given to Age Concern and Gabriel House in Exeter

Archdeacon Penny

Following last month's announcement of Bishop Bob's retirement in October next year, il has also been announced that our Archdeacon, Penny Driver, is moving to a similar post in the diocese of Carlisle, in order to be nearer her family. We wish her well and thank her foi all the strong and friendly support and contribution that she has made to our churches during her time with us here in Devon.

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their summer meetings as follows:

Bridford                  Wednesday, 2nd November, at 2.30 pm, at Connetts Cottage

Christow                  Thursday, 3rd November, at 7.45 pm, at Station House

From The Registers

Weddings

15th October         Daniel Prince and Clare Tetlow (Ashton) Funerals

23rd September     Jean Davis (Doddiscombsleigh) at Exeter Crematorium 30th September      Lilian Ince (Dunsford) - Thanksgiving Service 18th October         Alan Hine (Ashton) at Exeter Cathedral Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have died.

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the be: time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receh messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can. The phone number is 01647 252845 < you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

 

October

There are not many groups or organisations that will allow anyone who wishes to come in and take part in their activities uninvited with no questions asked.  Usually some form of enrolment or application is necessary, and sometimes this comes with an undertaking to accept certain rules, policies and principles, sometimes with a process of selection or recommendation.  In certain cases there may be a ceremony of welcome or initiation and very often some kind of payment or subscription is required.

 

In this way, clubs and societies, political parties and interest groups maintain control over their membership.  Many want to ensure that their group or organisation consists of like-minded people, people who share their aims and ideals, even their social or economic status.  If it’s something like amateur dramatics, potholing, model railways, bird watching, weight-watching or UFO spotting, then they would on most cases be self-selecting.  You would not even think of going along unless shared the common interest.

 

But others, like some golf clubs, Rotary, freemasons’ lodges and a whole range of private members’ clubs, can be more exclusive.  Personal recommendation from an existing member is usually the first requirement and in some cases a hefty subscription fee also limits the list of likely applicants.  Sometimes the whole business is shrouded in secrecy and is dependent on invitation only.  Then there will be codes of behaviour and dress, and sometimes there will be open gender discrimination.  Clearly these are all exempt from current equality legislation.

 

In sharp contrast, the Church of England closes the door to nobody.  All the services that take place in parish churches are public services, including baptisms, weddings and funerals, and anyone may attend.  This may be because, in the days of Queen Elizabeth I, church attendance was actually compulsory and if you refused to attend, you could be heavily fined, even imprisoned.  However the reason for such laws was more to do with politics than religion.  They were aimed at promoting political stability in an age when the allegiance of English Catholics could not be trusted and the threat of invasion by foreign Catholic powers was a very real one.  Religious conformity became a national necessity.

 

The result of this is that, even today, if you live within the boundaries of a parish – and that covers everybody - then you are a parishioner.  Not only may you attend all church services, but you may also attend the Annual Vestry Meeting and take part in the election of Churchwardens who, among other duties, still have powers for keeping the peace in churches and also in churchyards.  After all, someone had to have the job of preventing riotous, violent, or indecent behaviour in the churches, of making sure that ministers would not be molested, disturbed, vexed, troubled or in any way prevented from celebrating the sacrament or officiating at any divine service.

 

For the most part, these laws still on the statute book are the fossilised remains of a bygone age.  Church attendance has not been compulsory for quite a long time now, but the open availability of an act of worship to the whole population remains with us.  The Church of England ensures that there is a Christian presence in every community for those who want it.  The journey of faith is not one that we have to walk on our own.  From cradle to grave, we have the opportunity to receive support, teaching, guidance and the company of others on the same journey if we want it.  It is there for all of us and, just like the NHS, its services are free at the point of delivery.

 

Of course, there are far more people on the journey of faith in the community than you will ever find at a church service on a Sunday morning.  But in a busy life, it is not always easy to find that space for prayer and reflection.  In a quiet more lonely life, the opposite may be the case and you may want the company and support of those who share their beliefs.  Either way, it is not easy to walk the journey alone.

 

As well as worship, prayer and a space to reflect, the Church also offers its sacraments, outward signs or actions to strengthen the faith that is developing within.  The best known is christening or infant baptism when young children, who are too young to profess the faith for themselves, are baptised on the understanding that they are going to be brought up as Christians within the family of the Church.

 

In baptism, we believe that God touches us with his love, gives us a place among his people and invites us to begin a life-long journey.  But God is not only there are the beginning but all the way throughout our lives and in the end brings us to his eternal life. 

So when we meet together with others on the same journey, we explore the way of living that was taught by Jesus.  We seek to grow in our friendship with God, by prayer and listening to his word, and to allow his gifts to grow in us.  We also share in his love for people both near us and throughout the world in the service that we do for others.

 

Confirmation is what it says – the opportunity to confirm that we are on this journey of faith.  It is about firming up the promises made for us when we were young and by the public laying on of hands by a Bishop, we receive strength from God for the way ahead.  Traditionally this opens the door for us to join in the sacramental meal of bread and wine, a sign of what Jesus did for us when he was put to death on the cross.  In this way we celebrate the life that we seek to live in union with him, set free from slavery to selfish desire and with the assurance of sharing his risen life now and in the world to come.      

 

Special events during October

Harvest Thanksgiving Services

As well as celebrating the good things in life at our Harvest Thanksgiving Services, we also focus on people both near and far away who rarely enjoy the things that we take so much for granted.  Please bring along gifts of produce and there will be an opportunity to give financial support to trusted agencies such as Tearfund and Christian Aid who are making a real difference to people’s lives with farming and water projects in parts of Africa.

Four of our churches are celebrating Harvest this month:

Ashton - Sunday 2nd October at 5.00 pm followed by Harvest Supper

Dunsford - Sunday 2nd October at 10.00 am for a Family Service and also at 6.30 pm for Harvest Evensong followed by Harvest Supper

Dunchideock - Sunday 9th October at 6.00 p.m. followed by Harvest Supper

Doddiscombsleigh - Sunday 16th October at 6.30 p.m. followed by Harvest Supper

Offerings of flowers and produce are much appreciated for decorating the churches and are then used for the benefit of others.  All are welcome.

 

Shoebox Services: October 30th (Ashton) & November 6th (Dunsford)

The ‘Operation Christmas Child’ leaflets will be available in our churches this month and there will be opportunities to bring your shoeboxes to church for blessing as we send them on their way - either at the Group Eucharist on 30th October at Ashton or at the Family Service at Dunsford on 6th November – both at 10.00 am.

 

Confirmation Service

The next Confirmation Service here in the Teign Valley has been booked for Sunday 29th January 2012 with Bishop Bob and Preparation will begin this autumn.  So far about a dozen adults and young people have expressed an interest and preparation is now getting underway.  These opportunities do not come every year, so if you think this might be the right time for you, or if you would like to know more, please get in touch straightaway.

 

Bishop Bob

I am sure that many of you will be sorry to learn that Bishop Bob has announced that he will be retiring in September 2012 having been Bishop of Crediton for almost eight years.  Many of us have really appreciated his all too short a time among us and between now and then there will no doubt be opportunities to pay tributes and express our thanks for his ministry.  In the meantime you may wish to note that his official farewell service is to be held in Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 6th October at 3.00 pm.

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their summer meetings as follows:

Ashton – Thursday 6th October at 2.30 pm at George Teign Barton

Bridford – Wednesday 2nd November at 2.30 pm at Connetts Cottage

Christow – Thursday 3rd November at 7.45 pm at Station House

Doddiscombsleigh - Thursday 20th October at 7.30 pm at Oakley

Dunchideock – Monday 17th October at 7.30 pm at Christow Rectory

Dunsford – Thursday 13th October at 7.30 pm at Sunnyside

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

September 4th       Jade, Summer and Joshua Cary (Christow)

Weddings

August 27th           Simon Lee and Hayley Sterland (Doddiscombsleigh)

September 3rd       Paul Connolly and Carol Phillips (Ashton)

September 17th     James Calverley and Harriet Cameron (Ashton)

Funerals

August 24th                    Mary Rains (Doddiscombsleigh)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

 

September

Some two thousand years ago there lived a most extraordinary man.  Although there are some fascinating stories about how and where he was born, no one is quite sure whether they are true or not, but it was not his origins but all that he did and said in the last three years of his life that made him so unusual.

 

The only records that we have of his life describe a man whose words and deeds filled people with amazement and wonder.  When he spoke, he did so with an extraordinary authority even though there was nothing fundamentally new about what he said.  He often expressed his ideas in stories and pictures that were simple to follow, but at the same time deep in meaning.  Above all he treated everyone with a directness of word and touch that left some people with a deep sense of wholeness and well-being, in their bodies as well as in their souls, but made others feel profoundly unsettled and alarmed.

 

He did not last very long.  He made some people so angry that they plotted to destroy him and eventually succeeded.   But that was not the end of the story.  The source of his power and inspiration began to reveal itself in others as well and there began to be felt the deepest of convictions that, even though the man had died, he was in a very real way still alive and his spirit lived in everyone who put their trust in him.

 

That does not sum up everything that Christians believe about Jesus, but perhaps it helps us recapture something of the impact that he made on the people who met and heard him at first hand.  The story of how Jesus came to be crucified also makes perfect sense when we read his attacks on the religious leaders and institution of his day.  They felt that he seemed to show little regard for their laws and traditions and laws and mixed too freely with people that the Jews regarded as unclean - either because of their physical or mental impairments or because of their immoral and corrupt behaviour.

 

Jesus made it clear that his criteria for including or excluding people were very different. In the famous Sermon on the Mount, the qualities that Jesus regarded as important were purity of heart, humility, mercy and compassion.  The true children of God, he said, are those who know their need of God and have a deep longing to be on right terms with God.  At the same time, he made it clear that the love of money, power and position in this life is not compatible with entry into the kingdom of God.  To ride roughshod over the weak and powerless in pursuit of your own profit and pleasure was not the way into the kingdom of heaven.

 

Given the clarity with which Jesus speaks of these things, it may seem surprising that, in its long and disturbing history, the Church has never tried to root out those who do not share the values of the kingdom of God.  There has been plenty of rooting out for other reasons.  There have been iniquitous inquisitions, witch-hunts, crusades and all kinds of religious warfare, but no one was ever put on trial for their love of money or ambition for status and position. The instruments of torture burning at the stake were reserved for those who disagreed on matters such as the authority of the Pope or the meaning of the mass, or for those who tried to translate the Bible into the languages that people spoke.  Happily all that is well behind us, and yet divisions within the Church can still get very sharp.  Again the disputes are not about kingdom values, but over matters that are more questions of tradition, or behaviour that is regarded as clean and unclean.

 

The fact is that Jesus said very little, if anything, about the Church.  The stories that he told and the word pictures that he drew are all about the kingdom of God.  But nowhere does he suggest that this is a place that we shall be admitted to or excluded from when we die.  The kingdom of God is something to be entered here and now.  At the same time, many of his stories speak of a harvest that will be reaped at the end of the age, when there will be a sifting and a sorting, a separating out of the good grain to be stored in barns, while the bad will be bundled up and burned on a fire.

 

In fact, the consequences that he described of not entering the kingdom come across as pretty terrifying.  The angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Unless we are totally convinced that this life is all there is, this is probably not the place where we like to imagine ourselves or our loved ones ending up.  If there is a heaven, a life with God in whatever comes next, we would probably like everyone to be there.  We could even say that God would like everyone to be there. But as God alone knows all the secrets of our hearts and where we stand with him, we shall have to leave this to him to sort out.

 

Special events during September

 

All Age Service – Sunday 4th September at 10.00 am - Christow

A short informal service for young and old alike.  The theme of the service is ‘Giving’ – and will include a DVD showing the benefits of the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Scheme.  The Collection will be going to the Somalia Relief Fund.  All are welcome.

 

Harvest Thanksgiving Services

As well as celebrating the good things in life at our Harvest Thanksgiving Services, we also focus on people both near and far away who rarely enjoy the things that we take so much for granted.  Hardly a week goes by without us hearing of people in need in different parts of the world - so we want our Harvest Celebrations also to be about making a generous offering to those who have so little.

Most of our churches will be celebrating Harvest next month.  But first off the mark are Bridford and Christow – Bridford on Sunday 18th September at 11.30 am followed by Harvest Lunch in the Village Hall and Christow on Sunday 25th September at 11.30 am followed by Harvest Lunch in the TVCH.  All are welcome.

 

Confirmation Service

The next Confirmation Service here in the Teign Valley has been booked for Sunday 29th January 2012 with Bishop Bob and Preparation will begin this autumn.  So far a number of adults and young people have expressed an interest.  These opportunities do not come every year, so if you think this might be the right time for you, or if you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

Group Council

There will be a meeting of the Group Council on Thursday 22nd September at 7.30 pm at George Teign Barton.

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

August 7th                      Isla Clements (Dunsford)

Weddings

July 22nd               Toby Heriz-Smith and Jacqui Whitaker (Dunsford)

July 23rd               Timothy Vaines and Georgia Kingdon (Christow)

August 6th             Paul Evans and Rosie Mason (Dunsford)

August 13th           James Burwell and Laura Smallridge (Dunsford)

Funerals

July 27th               Frances Wright (Interment of Ashes at Christow)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

 

August

The news is a bit like the weather.  It’s only when it changes that we start talking about it and as the weather in England is nearly always changing, so we often find ourselves talking about it.  You can’t imagine the people living in tropical rainforests telling each other that they might get a few showers today.  You don’t expect people in a Russian winter discussing how chilly it has been of late.  In places like these, as someone once said, they have a climate and they know exactly what to expect.  Here we have weather and so we talk about it.

 

When it comes to the news, what we see are the exceptional stories.  The fact is that for most people life is generally pretty routine.  We do more or less the same today as we did yesterday, last week, last year, and that does not make news.  What we hear all about are the dramatic interruptions to normal daily life.  The people who make their living from telling and selling the news love nothing better than a major disaster, a crisis, an act of violence or warfare with which to fill the time on the 24 hour news bulletins, and the space in our newspapers and news web pages.

 

They rarely, if ever, run out of material.  If another politician is not on the verge of falling or being pushed into disgrace, or if no flood, famine or earthquake has struck, there will nearly always be one group of people somewhere in the world having a go at another group.  Usually it’s the ones closest to them, their next door neighbours.  Whether it’s the Nationalists or the Loyalists in Northern Ireland, the Sunnis and Shi’ites in Iraq or the Jews and Arabs in the Middle East – whoever and wherever it is, we know that hating your neighbours is one of the oldest and most popular ways of carrying on.

 

It’s much easier to hate, fear, suspect and insult the people around us than it is to love them.  We don’t know many of them by name, but we know an awful lot of them by label, and what we know is that they are different from us.  It’s certainly not new.  You can read all about it in the Bible, in history, in literature and and you’ll find in operas and on the stage.  That’s because it happens in real life too.

 

School playgrounds, housing estates, religious and political rallies are the common setting for such behaviour, and the huge wall that was built to protect Israel is a massive symbol of such a way of living.  One of the classic recipes for tragedy is when two individuals dare to form a love match across the established group boundaries.  How dare we attempt to discover the common humanity that transcends the tribal, racial, social or religious barriers that lie between my people and yours!

 

Whenever I turn to the New Testament Gospels, of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I discover how Jesus invariably puts common humanity above all other considerations in the way he deals with the people around him.  Because we are not first-century Palestinian Jews, we do not always pick up what risks he was taking by treating them in this way, especially as a Jewish religious teacher.  Such as when he asked a Syro-Phoenician woman to give him a drink at a well, well knowing that she had had five husbands and that the man she was living with was not her husband.  Or all the times that he kept crossing over in the boat from one side of the lake to the other, moving freely from Jewish to Gentile community, and mixing equally with both groups of people who normally kept well apart from one another in the way they still try to do today.

 

Jesus summed up his approach to what was most important in life by quoting what he called the two greatest, and probably the two hardest, commandments: to love God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself.  Jesus regarded both of these as essential prerequisites for obtaining what he called eternal life.

 

One day a lawyer asked him what he meant by neighbour, and in reply Jesus told a simple story about a traveller who was mugged on a dark lonely road and left to die.  The first two people to come along were not allowed by religious law to touch a dead body, so that they made a wide circle and passed by on the other side.  But then there came a foreigner, an enemy, a man from the other side, someone not bound by Jewish religious laws.  Instead he acted from a sense of common humanity.  He simply saw the situation and knew how he would like to be treated if he had suffered the same predicament.  He bound the man’s wounds and took him to a place of safety.

 

At the end of the story, Jesus cleverly turned round the lawyer’s question and asked: who do you think was neighbour to the man who fell among thieves?  In other words it’s not about defining who is my neighbour and who is not.  Life’s too short for all that.  It’s time to reaffirm our common humanity and get on with being neighbour to those around us. 

 

Special events during the Summer Months

 

Sung Compline – Sunday 7th August at 6.00 pm - Christow

Sometimes we need something more quiet and reflective and the ancient service of Sung Compline has proved quite popular over the last couple of years.  So we are going to do it again this year on Sunday 7th August at 6.00 pm in Christow Church.  All are welcome.

 

Group Choral Evensong – Sunday 21st August at Bridford at 6.30 pm

It may be surprising how many people still enjoy Prayer Book Evensong, not necessarily all the time, but on occasions especially when we have a choir to lead the singing.  We hold these two or three times a year and all are welcome to come along to Bridford Church on August 21st at 6.30 pm.

 

All Age Service – Sunday 4th September at 10.00 am - Christow

A short informal service for young and old alike - all are welcome.

 

Confirmation Service

The next Confirmation Service here in the Teign Valley has been booked for Sunday 29th January 2012 with Bishop Bob and Preparation will begin this coming autumn.  So far a number of adults and young people have expressed an interest. 

Many people are baptised or christened into the Christian faith at an age when they had no idea what was happening to them.  For adults, and for children old enough to know their own minds, the Church of England offers the opportunity to confirm the place of God in our lives and to take a significant step forward on our journey of faith.

Preparation for this takes the form of coming to a better understanding of what the Christian faith is all about, a space in which to articulate the questions that puzzle us and to explore the relevance of the Bible and Church to our lives.  If you think this might be the right time for you, or if you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

Neuro-Foundation Service and Charity Lunch

Thank you to all of you who supported the Service and Lunch on July 3rd in aid of the Neuro-Foundation.  As well as those of you who came to the events, others sent donations and the total raised was £1562 – an amazing result!  A special thank you to Doddiscombsleigh PCC for allowing us to hold the service there and to Daphne West, Liz Hogg and all the Singers.  Also to Annabelle Hofmann for welcoming us to her home for the lunch, to all who provided food and all who worked so hard to set it up. It was the perfect summer’s day and the garden at George Teign Barton was certainly looking at its best and so good to know that sufferers from Neurofibromatosis and their families will be helped by the occasion.

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

July 10th               Kate Ellis (Dunchideock)

July 17th               Samuel Baldwinson (Christow)

Weddings

July 2nd                 William Vogel and Fiona Kingdon (Dunsford)

July 9th                 James Penkethman and Frances Taylor (Dunsford)

Funerals

June 17th               Doris Harradine (Memorial Service at Christow)

June 27th               Les Haines (Christow)

July 18th               Jennie Bolton (Doddiscombsleigh)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

 

July

At the beginning of last month there was great excitement at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, usually known by its French acronym as Cern, the place where they have the Large Hadron Collider, popularly known as the atom smasher.

 

For a while they have been creating atoms of antihydrogen but have only been managing to keep them for less than fifth of a second before they self-destruct.  They have now discovered how to keep them in a stable state for a lot longer, for one thousand seconds, or 16 minutes and 40 seconds. This may not sound like a long time - about long enough to drink a cup of tea or to walk a mile if you're in reasonable shape - but compared to their previous record this is an exciting breakthrough.  It means that they have long enough to conduct experiments and see how antimatter interacts with light and gravity.  The results could mean a breakthrough at the very edge of physics.  It could lead them to discover more about the birth of the universe.

 

The theory that currently prevails among scientists is that at the time of the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago, the universe consisted of matter and antimatter in equal amounts.  According to the laws of physics, this should have resulted in total annihilation, but it did not.  It is like half the universe went missing and so far scientists have no way of explaining this.

 

As someone who has managed to survive in life without ever getting a science qualification of any kind, I do not find this the easiest stuff to follow.  But it is heartening to find that the scientists are humble and honest enough to admit that there is plenty they do not know.  Quite different from the popular impression that they have got it all sown up and we do not need to bring God in to provide any explanation for the birth and creation of the universe.

 

Part of the problem is that, in the past, God was used to explain all sorts of natural phenomena that we now understand in a very different way. Thunder was once regarded as the voice of God, and natural disasters, like flood, earthquake and volcano, as God-sent punishments on sinful humanity.  As soon as we understood how and why these things occur, there was a tendency to use God to explain other things that we still did not understand – in other words, we created a God of the gaps.  But the gaps in our knowledge are getting smaller and, for many people, there is very little reason to suppose that God exists at all.

 

Clearly you cannot build a faith on a God of the gaps. Any more than you can build a faith on a God that you have shaped according to your own needs and desires, or your own expectations of what life should be like. You can only build a faith on God as He is.

The images of God that we find in primitive cultures, often modelled on human characteristics, or the ideas that we grow up with as children, are unlikely to provide the basis for a faith that will see us through life.

The first metaphor that we find in the Bible, as a way of talking about the power and activity of God in the world, is that of breath or wind, a word that is usually translated as spirit, but intended to indicate something that is mysterious, all-powerful and invisible.  While breath and wind are quickly understood, spirit is a tricky word to use and can suggest all sorts of things from ghostly apparitions to a level of existence that is superior to the world of matter, spiritual as opposed to physical.

 

The Bible makes no distinction between spirit and matter as if the material and physical elements of the world were separate or even opposed to God, or as if we are called to rise above whatever is physical and material in this world and embrace only what is spiritual.  The world and we who live in it may fall short of God's glory and stand in need of redemption, but the Biblical writers all agree that the created world and all the creatures in it are loved by God, that they are indwelt by God's Spirit and that the Spirit of God moves and works through them.

 

So what do we mean by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God?  We really need to hold on to the underlying metaphor of breath or wind, a metaphorical way of referring to something powerful but invisible.  It is also closely connected in the minds of the New Testament writers with God's unconditional love and grace.  In their eyes, God's Spirit and God's grace are one and the same thing for it is by the grace of God, a free and undeserved gift, that we accept the gift of faith and start to become a new creation as we open ourselves and our lives to God and allow his Spirit to grow in us and change us.

 

Special events during the Summer Months

 

Midsummer Madness – Sunday 26th June 3.00 pm at Doddiscombsleigh

A summer afternoon in the beautiful natural surroundings of Doddiscombsleigh Church and Churchyard – with a Strawberries and Cream Tea and the opportunity to choose and sing some of your favourite hymns.  A great opportunity to get together.  If you would like to suggest a hymn, please contact Janet (252206), Angela (252675) or Tina (252718) fairly soon!

 

The Neuro Foundation - A Service of Thanksgiving and Awareness – Sunday 3rd July 11.00 am at Doddiscombsleigh

Losing Stuart last November has raised a greater awareness of the importance of the research and the care of those who suffer from Neurofibromatosis and their families.  It remains a relatively unknown condition but two or three children are born with it every day.  On Sunday 3rd July, the monthly service at Doddiscombsleigh will focus on this and include a guest speaker from the Neuro-Foundation.  All of our village churches are supporting this event and all are welcome to the service.  Many people have already booked their places at the Charity Lunch afterwards at George Teign Barton, the proceeds from which will go to the Neuro-Foundation in memory of Stuart.  For tickets please ask your churchwardens or contact Annabelle Hofmann (252961).  If you are unable to attend the lunch, but would like to make a donation, please give it your churchwardens or send it direct to me.

 

Sung Compline – Sunday 7th August at 6.00 pm - Christow

Sometimes we need something more quiet and reflective and the ancient service of Sung Compline has proved quite popular over the last couple of years.  So we are going to do it again this year on Sunday 7th August at 6.00 pm in Christow Church.  All are welcome.

 

Group Choral Evensong – Sunday 21st August at Bridford at 6.30 pm

It may be surprising how many people still enjoy Prayer Book Evensong, not necessarily all the time, but on occasions especially when we have a choir to lead the singing.  We hold these two or three times a year and all are welcome to come along to Bridford Church on August 21st at 6.30 pm.

 

Confirmation Service

Many people are baptised or christened into the Christian faith at an age when they had no idea what was happening to them.  For adults, and for children old enough to know their own minds, the Church of England offers the opportunity to confirm the place of God in our lives and to take a significant step forward on our journey of faith.  Preparation for this takes the form of coming to a better understanding of what the Christian faith is all about, a space in which to articulate the questions that puzzle us and to explore the relevance of the Bible and Church to our lives.  The next Confirmation Service here in the Teign Valley has been booked for Sunday 29th January 2012 with Bishop Bob and Preparation will begin this coming autumn.  So far a number of adults and young people have expressed an interest.  If you think this might be the right time for you, or if you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their summer meetings as follows:

Bridford – Wednesday 6th July at 2.30 pm at The Spinney

Christow – Wednesday 29th June at 7.45 pm in Church

Dunchideock – Monday 4th July at 7.30 pm at Christow Rectory

Dunsford – Wednesday 6th July at 7.30 pm at 9 Brownings Mead

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

June 5th                 Finbar and Martha Greenman (Dunsford)

Weddings

May 28th               Glyn Elliott and Charlotte Piper (Dunchideock)

June 4th                 David Oliver and Melanie Howell (Bridford)

                             Mark Haines and Fiona McFadzean (Christow)

June 11th               David Adlam and Marie Disney (Christow)

Funerals

May 25th               David Strudwick (Interment of Ashes at Ashton)

May 27th               Bill May (Ashton)

June 8th                 Vera May (Doddiscombsleigh)

June 13th               Brenda Youngs (Dunchideock)

 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

 

June

During this year, some twenty couples have booked to get married in one or other of our village churches here in the Teign Valley.  Some of the brides or bridegrooms live locally or come from local families.  Others have qualified by being able to establish an historic or residential connection with our parishes.  These marriages will not attract the attention and worldwide publicity that was focussed on The Wedding that took place at Westminster Abbey on April 29th, but nevertheless each one of them is just as important.  Each one of them has the potential to create a space where love, trust and a healthy partnership may develop and grow, a place of security and caring into which a new generation, if the couple so wish, may be born.

 

Marriage is therefore highly valued as an institution that can bring benefit, not only to the people directly involved, but to the surrounding family, community and wider society as well.  At the same time, it is a way of life that not everyone is called to, that not everyone chooses, that not everyone finds coming their way.  It is also a way of life that is fraught with risk, that is full of challenge, that sometimes does not work out.  It is an institution that can easily be abused and misused, a place where power games and conflicts may be worked out.  Sometimes it is simply a cover being used to implement or resolve issues of property, respectability, access or control.  Over the centuries, and across the cultures of the world, marriage has taken many forms and, even today, carries all sorts of different expectations.

 

In his address at The Wedding on April 29th, the Bishop of London reminded us how marriage brings into sharp focus the challenges that life presents to us whether we enter into the married state or not.  Be who God meant you to be… so the Bishop began his address… and you will set the world on fire.  This remark, paraphrasing words written in a letter by St Catherine of Siena, struck a chord with people all over the world as well as prompting the inevitable humorous responses from people who sense their place in the world is just to be a wet blanket!

 

Inevitably, in the context of a wedding, the Bishop also found himself speaking about love.  Some would say that love is one of the most misused words in our language, and it certainly covers a wide range of feelings, ideas and activities.  On this occasion the Bishop kept well away from love as passion or attraction, as a feeling or desire, or as something focussed on ourselves and our own needs.  Rather he spoke of love as a state or activity in which we look beyond ourselves.  He linked this to spiritual growth and described how the spiritual life grows within us as love finds its centre beyond ourselves.

 

Just as we all have to be weaned off baby milk – wherever it comes from – so we all face in life the hard challenge of weaning ourselves away from self-centredness.  Whether we are partners in a marriage or other committed relationship, or members of an established family or community, love opens the door into one of the great discoveries and mysteries of human existence: that the more we give of ourselves, the richer we become – and the more we go beyond ourselves, the more we become our true selves.

So marriage is one of the places where we have the opportunity to give and receive love, and thereby grow into our true selves.  It is also a place where our true selves, our shortcomings and our insecurities, our hurts and our hang-ups, are most clearly exposed.  How we deal with these is one of the great tests of love.  But we have great resources at our disposal - trust, honesty, patience, repentance, forgiveness and listening are all among them – and marriage is by no means the only place where these need to be exercised.

 

Special events during June

This month we come to the end of the Easter season with our celebration of the Ascension of Jesus, the manifestation of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and finally Trinity Sunday when we affirm our experience of God as Father, Son and Spirit – God who creates, redeems and empowers.

 

Group Sung Eucharist and Picnic – 29th May – 11.00 am

There will be a Group Service at Dunchideock on 29th May followed by a Group Picnic on the outer Church Green.  Please bring your own picnic and chairs or blankets.  All are welcome.

 

Ascension Day – Thursday 2nd June – 7.30 pm Ashton

There will be a Group Eucharist to celebrate Ascension Day at Ashton at 7.30 pm.

 

Trinity Sunday – Sunday 19th June – Deanery Celebration Eucharist at the Teign Valley Community Hall

This celebration is part of the programme for Bishop Bob’s second tour of Kenn Deanery.  Last time, two years ago, all the churches in the Deanery were invited to the seaside.  This time we are inviting everyone to the countryside for a special celebration of Trinity Sunday in the TVCH in Christow followed by a ‘bring-your-own-picnic’ on the field.  Music will be led by singers and musicians from across the Deanery and the service is being planned with all ages in mind.  Please remember that there will be no other services that Sunday in any of our village churches. 

 

Bishop Bob in Kenn Deanery: 15th/16th/19th June

As well as the Sunday, Bishop Bob is spending two days in our area and he will be visiting some schools, Messy Church in Starcross and the Acorn Day Centre in Cheriton Bishop.  The visit opens with a service at Dawlish and you can also come and meet him informally at a Cream Tea at Gray’s Farm (between Dunsford and Tedburn) on Thursday 16th June from 3.00-5.00 pm.  This event is an open invitation to all.  In addition, Bishop Bob will also be speaking during a week of faith renewal at St Michael’s Church, Teignmouth – Monday-Friday 13th-17th June – each evening at 7.30 pm.  You will find a full schedule and further details below.

 

Midsummer Madness – Sunday 26th June 3.00 pm at Doddiscombsleigh

A summer afternoon in the beautiful natural surroundings of Doddiscombsleigh Church and Churchyard – with a Strawberries and Cream Tea and the opportunity to choose and sing some of your favourite hymns.  A great opportunity to get together.  If you would like to suggest a hymn, please contact Janet (252206), Angela (252675) or Tina (252718) fairly soon!

 

The Neuro Foundation - A Service of Thanksgiving and Awareness – Sunday 3rd July 11.00 am at Doddiscombsleigh

Losing Stuart last November has raised a great awareness of the importance of the research and the care of those who suffer from Neurofibromatosis and their families.  In July, the monthly service at Doddiscombsleigh will focus on this and include a guest speaker from the Neuro-Foundation.  All of our village churches are supporting this event and all are welcome to the service which will be followed by a Charity Lunch at George Teign Barton.  Tickets for the Lunch will be available from the churchwardens in each of our village churches.  For further information, please contact Annabelle Hofmann (252961 or bella@hofm.freeserve.co.uk).

 

Confirmation Service

Many people are baptised or christened into the Christian faith at an age when they had no idea what was happening to them.  For adults, and for children old enough to know their own minds, the Church of England offers the opportunity to confirm the place of God in our lives and to take a significant step forward on our journey of faith.  Preparation for this takes the form of coming to a better understanding of what the Christian faith is all about, a space in which to articulate the questions that puzzle us and to explore the relevance of the Bible and Church to our lives.  The next Confirmation Service here in the Teign Valley has been booked for Sunday 29th January 2012 with Bishop Bob and Preparation will begin this coming autumn.  If you think this might be the right time for you, or if you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their summer meetings as follows:

Ashton – Thursday 23rd June at 2.30 pm at George Teign Barton

Bridford – Wednesday 6th July at 2.30 pm at The Spinney

Christow – Wednesday 29th June at 7.45 pm in Church

Dunchideock – Wednesday 8th June at 7.30 pm at The Beeches

Dunsford – Wednesday 6th July at 7.30 pm at 9 Brownings Mead

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

May 8th                 Chloe Jenkins (Doddiscombsleigh)

Weddings

April 30th              George Leigh and Elizabeth Durnford (Ashton)

May 7th                 Frank Davies and Stephanie Hill (Dunsford)

May 14th               Oliver Elworthy and Hannah Brook (Doddiscombsleigh)

Funerals

May 1st                 Robert Shears (Interment of Ashes at Dunsford)

May 13th               Robert Toosey (Burial at Doddiscombsleigh)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bishop Bob ‘On Tour’ in Kenn Deanery 2011

 

 

Wednesday 15th June

Thursday 16th June

Sunday 19th June

10.00 – 11.30

Holy Communion

St Gregory’s, Dawlish

followed by refreshments

 

3.00 – 5.00

Cream Tea

Gray’s Farm near Tedburn St Mary

Trinity Sunday  11.00

Deanery Celebration Eucharist in the Teign Valley Community Hall, Christow followed by Bring-Your-Own Picnic

Monday 13th – Friday 17th June

Every evening at 7.30 pm at St Michael’s, Teignmouth

~ All are welcome ~

Mon 13th

Baptism & Grace

with Archdeacon  Penny Driver

Tues 14th

Cross & Reconciliation

with Canon Andrew Godsall

Wed 15th

Resurrection & Healing

with Bishop Bob

Thurs 16th

Eucharist & Thanksgiving

with Bishop Bob

Fri 17th

Commission & Outreach

with Canon Anna Norman-Walker

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May

There seem to be two questions that occasional visitors to our churches almost feel impelled to ask me , especially people who come along as guests, say, at a wedding or baptism.  One of them is ‘How old is this church?’ and the other one is ‘How old are you?’ or as they usually express it: ‘How long have you been here?’  As is often said, if they gave me a pound every time I was asked one of those questions, well, I would not exactly be a rich man but I could certainly treat myself to a nice meal out!

 

There was one occasion that I remember finding particularly irritating.  A rather snooty visiting clergyman, with a strong upper class accent, turned up to conduct a family christening for one of his grandchildren.  He sounded like he had only ever worked in well-appointed leafy suburban or city parish churches.  So when he walked into one of my rather primitive rural vestries, looked scornfully around him and then asked me how long I had been here, I could not resist answering him with a rather curt: ‘Oh, about ten minutes!’

 

Those who ask about the age of the church building are usually expressing an interest in the historic character of our medieval churches.  It may be because they do not often find themselves in such an ancient building that is still amazingly being used today, but without many of today’s comforts, such as comfortable seating, effective heating, running water or toilets.  So when I tell them that the church dates from the 14th century, I can sense them thinking: yes, it’s all very lovely and quaint, and full of history, but isn’t it really past it’s use-by date?  Isn’t it about time the facilities were updated a bit?

 

It’s certainly true that if we were invited to a meal at someone’s house and found that we had to keep our coats on to keep warm, that we had to sit on upright wooden benches and that there was nowhere for a lady to powder her nose, we may admire the virtues of our host’s asceticism and self-denial but we may not be too ready to accept a second invitation.

 

When our ancient churches were built, their furnishings and facilities either matched or were slightly above those found in the average home.  As the centuries rolled by, seating, heating and electric light were added, and possibly an outside tap.  But as public buildings go, in our days the average country church has fallen way behind.

 

This is not to take away from the beauty of these ancient buildings, their historical interest and the sense of a place that has been prayed in for hundreds of years.  The sense of peace and of God’s presence can be very powerful within those walls.

 

But the experience that we call church is not about the stones or the architecture, and it is not about the people.  Church is what happens when people gather together in a certain place to pray, to worship, to reflect on their lives in the conscious presence of God.  Church is what happens when people gather together to give thanks, to release their burdens of guilt, regret and failure, to pray for themselves and for other people.  Church is what happens when people gather to hear God’s word, to be reaffirmed in his love and to rediscover their unique worth as one of his people, created in his image.

 

Church is not a building and church is not the people who go to a building.  Church is an event, a happening, a standing apart from daily concerns, routine and activity, but at the same an offering of all of these and all that we are.  Church is about giving and receiving, in relation to God and in relation to the other people in our lives.  It is not something that should be done as a matter of duty, but at the same time a habit of experiencing church regularly can be very helpful.  Some people would say that we need regular spiritual nourishment just as much as our bodies benefit from three meals a day.

 

But what about the buildings that we have inherited for this purpose?  The people who originally built them invested huge amounts of time, energy, skill and money into creating a place where church could happen.  They gave of their best to make a place of beauty, a place built to the glory of God.

 

How fit for the purpose are they in our day and age?  Do we walk away from them and leave them to be preserved as historical monuments in favour of somewhere better equipped?  Do we try to adapt them?  Do we just leave them as they are? With our limited resources, here is a debate that needs to be aired and shared. 

     

Special events during May and June

This month we are in the midst of the Easter season that leads to our celebration of the Ascension of Jesus, the manifestation of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and finally Trinity Sunday when we affirm our experience of God as Father, Son and Spirit – God who creates, redeems and empowers.

 

Ascension Day – Thursday 2nd June – 7.30 pm Ashton

There will be a Group Eucharist to celebrate Ascension Day at Ashton at 7.30 pm.

 

Trinity Sunday – Sunday 19th June – Deanery Celebration Eucharist at the Teign Valley Community Hall

This celebration is part of the programme for Bishop Bob’s second tour of Kenn Deanery.  Last time, two years ago, all the churches in the Deanery were invited to the seaside.  This time we are inviting everyone to the countryside for a special celebration of Trinity Sunday in the TVCH in Christow followed by a ‘bring-your-own-picnic’ on the field.  Music will be led by singers and musicians from across the Deanery and the service is being planned with all ages in mind.  So put it in your diary or on your calendar or blackberry and don’t miss this opportunity.. 

 

Bishop Bob in Kenn Deanery: 15th/16th/19th June

During his time with us, Bishop Bob will also be speaking during a week of faith renewal at St Michael’s Church, Teignmouth – Monday-Friday 13th-17th June – each evening at 7.30 pm.  Bishop Bob will be there on Wed/Thurs 15th/16th June speaking on the topics of Resurrection and Eucharist.  There will be further details of this week of faith renewal in next month’s magazine.  You can also meet Bishop Bob more informally at a Cream Tea at Gray’s Farm (between Dunsford and Tedburn) on Thursday 16th June from 3.00-5.00 pm. 

 

Group Sung Eucharist and Picnic – 29th May – 11.00 am

There will be a Group Service at Dunchideock on 29th May followed by a Group Picnic on the outer Church Green.  Please bring your own picnic and chairs or blankets.  All are welcome.

 

Archdeacon’s Visitation – Wednesday 18th May – 7.30 pm

This year we go to St Gregory’s Church in Dawlish for the annual Archdeaconry Visitation Service conducted by our Archdeacon, the Ven Penny Driver.  Your Churchwardens will be legally sworn in and the ministry of all church members will be celebrated.  All are invited to attend.

 

Group Council

There will be a meeting of the Group Council on Thursday 19th May at 7.30 pm at George Teign Barton.

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their summer meetings as follows:

Ashton – Thursday 23rd June at 2.30 pm at George Teign Barton

Bridford – Wednesday 6th July at 2.30 pm at The Spinney

Christow – Wednesday 29th June at 7.45 pm in Church

Doddiscombsleigh – Wednesday 25th May at 7.30 pm at Oakley

Dunchideock – Wednesday 8th June at 7.30 pm at The Beeches

Dunsford – Wednesday 6th July at 7.30 pm at 9 Brownings Mead

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

April 17th              Jack and Charlie Haskins (Christow)

Funerals

March 28th            Robert Shears (Dunsford)

April 5th                Sonia O’Neill (Bridford at Exeter Crematorium)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

Graham Mayer

April

For several weeks now, the Easter eggs have been piled high on the shop shelves and all sorts of offers are made in the hope of stimulating early sales.  It might be three for the price of two or three for £5.  If you want the egg of your choice, it might also be wise to buy early.  Leave it too late and it could be a mad rush, waiting in long queues, paying extortionate prices and maybe finding that your favourite has sold out.

 

There’s no doubt that this is an expensive way of buying chocolate. If it was just the taste and pleasures of chocolate that we wanted, then there are clearly more cost-effective ways of obtaining it. So what are we after?  If the Easter eggs were not there on Easter morning, would it make any difference?  Why would our children feel deprived?

 

If you would like your children or grandchildren to know something about Easter and why we have it, then ask them if they know why we have the eggs. Do they know the story about how Jesus was cruelly put to death, hurriedly buried in a stone tomb, which really just a cave with an enormous rock rolled across the entrance? Then two days later, when his friends went down early in the morning to visit the tomb, they found the stone rolled away, and his body had disappeared.

 

Later that same day, the friends were hiding in a locked room, out of their minds with fear and grief.  But although the door was shut tight, Jesus suddenly appeared among them. The news spread fast. ‘Jesus is alive! He has risen from the dead!’

 

So just like a chicken bursts out of the egg, Jesus had burst out of the tomb. That is what we celebrate with chocolate eggs. Something happened that is so much more important than just another spring.

 

Of course, spring is wonderful as well. Who can fail to notice the annual miracle of life reawakening from the apparent death of winter?  This year it felt like we were waiting even longer than usual.  Of course we know that winter is not a real death. Winter is nature sleeping, resting, gathering strength, waiting for the right conditions to burst forth in new growth.  And Easter is not just another Spring.  Easter and its eggs are about the amazing fact that Jesus came back from the other side of death.

 

Once we have told the children the Easter story and helped them eat their eggs, the rest of it is for adult ears only.  Or so it might seem.  If we believe in the resurrection of Jesus, we not only find assurance about life after death. We see how that the evil that was done to him does not have the last word.  It also means that we do not have to be burdened eternally with our failings and wrongdoings.

 

It’s not that God punished Jesus instead of us by making him die on the cross.  Jesus was not taking on himself a punishment that we all deserve.  He was not a sacrificial victim offered to placate an angry deity who might otherwise visit his wrath upon us.

 

Those who condemned Jesus to death and made him suffer did so because they could not tolerate his one hundred per cent commitment to the ways and will of God.  But it was Jesus’s total obedience to the will of God, even to the point of death, which has bridged the gulf that separates disobedient humankind from God.  And that bridge, that access to God, is offered to us as a free gift.  Whatever our failings and shortcomings, we can claim it for ourselves by putting our faith and trust in him.  Our relationship with God, broken by human disobedience, is restored by means of Christ’s perfect obedience, and all we have to do is trust and commit ourselves to that.

 

The resurrection of Jesus that we celebrate at Easter by breaking and eating chocolate eggs is the proof that God’s love and a power are greater than sin, death and evil.  We identify ourselves with Christ in his dying and in his rising again, so growing a faith that not only makes sense of life as we know it, but also gives us power to deal with the past, to enjoy new life in the present and to have hope for the future.

 

The Easter story reminds us that this is a faith that is based, not on someone’s fancy ideals or ideas, or unquestioning obedience to sacred texts.  It is a faith that has been discovered and carved out of real human experience, driven and shaped by historical events and subjected to the hard scrutiny of human intellect and reason.  It is a faith for life, designed to grow as we grow.  And it is a faith that grows through doubts and questioning.  The sort of questions that children are all too ready to ask – but not necessarily while they are enjoying their Easter eggs.

 

Church Services for Holy Week and Easter

Palm Sunday – 17th April

Palm Crosses will be blessed and given out at all services:

Christow at 8.30 am – Holy Communion (BCP)

Ashton and Dunchideock at 10.00 am – Parish Communion

          Dunsford at 6.30 pm – Group Choral Evensong (BCP)

At the mid-morning and evening services, there will be a dramatised reading of the Passion Gospel according to St Matthew

Maundy Thursday – 21st April

Commemoration of the Last Supper – Group Eucharist at Dunsford at 7.30 pm

Good Friday – 22nd April

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion - Group Service at Dunsford at 10.00 am

Easter Day – 24th April

Early morning Easter Communion (BCP) – Bridford at 8.30 am

Mid-morning Easter Celebrations with Communion will be held in our other village churches at 10.00 am: Ashton / Christow / Doddiscombsleigh / Dunchideock / Dunsford

 

Looking back - Spring Concert

Christow Church was pretty full for the first of this year’s concerts in Christow Church on Saturday 5th March.  There was something for everyone ranging from a beautiful duet vocal rendering of the Barcarolle by Offenbach to a Suite of Sea Songs arranged for flute and piano by local composer Will Carnell, and lots more.  Helena Sewell also entertained us by reading quirky versions of Little Miss Muffett and the tale of St George and the Dragon.  Many thanks to all who took part, organised the event and came along to enjoy it.  The proceeds of £560 are being shared by the St James’s Church Heritage Fund and the Neuro Foundation.

 

An opportunity to be Confirmed

Plans are now being made to offer preparation for Confirmation this coming autumn with a view to having a Confirmation Service in the New Year.  This may feel like a long time ahead, but Bishops have to be booked well in advance.  So we have arranged to have a Confirmation at the Group Service on Sunday 29th January 2012 with the Bishop of Crediton.

 

This is an opportunity for people of all ages to consider, both for those who were baptised into the Christian faith at a young age as well as for those who, for whatever reason, have not been christened.  It is an opportunity to affirm your Christian values and beliefs and to be blessed and strengthened as you continue on your spiritual journey.  If you would like to know more or sense that this might be the time for you, please get in touch.

 

This year’s Lent course: Thursday mornings or evenings until 14th April

This year at our church services, most of our gospels readings are taken from Mathew, and so for the Lent Course this year, we are taking a closer look at what we call the Matthew Passion and reflecting on why Jesus had to die.  Our five sessions continue on Thursday mornings 10.30 – 12.00 or evenings 7.30 – 9.00 starting on March 17th.  We meet in the mornings at The Spinney, Bridford, by kind invitation of Francis and Daphne Leversedge and in the evenings at Wood View, Dunsford, by kind invitation of Liz and Phil Bastin.  All are welcome.

 

Lent Lunches

In Dunsford Lent Lunches are being held on Mondays at 12.30 pm at The Walled Garden.  

 

St George’s Day – 1st May at 10.30 am in Christow Church

Normally on 23rd April, this year St George has had to move to May 1st and the Parade Service this year will be in Christow Church at 10.30 am.  All are welcome.

 

Archdeacons’ Visitation 2011

This year’s service with Archdeacon Penny will be on Wednesday 18th May at 7.30 pm at St Gregory’s Dawlish.  All are welcome.

 

Annual Church Meetings

All parishioners are invited to attend our Annual Church Meetings:

Ashton                          Wednesday 30th March at 2.30 pm in the Village Hall

Bridford                        Wednesday 13th April at 2.30 pm in Church

Christow                       Wednesday 27th April at 7.45 pm in Church

Doddiscombsleigh         Wednesday 20th April at 7.30 pm in Church

Dunchideock                 Monday 18th April at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall

All nominations for Churchwardens and PCC members should be made before the meetings using lists at the back of our churches.  Nominations are also invited for Deanery Synod to serve for the next three years.  Anyone on the Church’s Electoral Roll is eligible for election.

 

From The Registers

Baptism

March 6th                       Olivia Luscombe (Doddiscombsleigh)

Funerals

March 3rd                        Kathleen Walker (Interment of Ashes at Bridford)

March 10th/11th               John French (Cremation at Exeter and Thanksgiving                                          Service at Dunsford)

March 21st                      Josephine James (Dunsford)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

 

Graham Mayer

 

 

March

The names of Valentine, George and Alban are fairly well-known within our shores for their respective connections with romantic love, English football and a cathedral city in the county of Hertfordshire.  They may not be so well known as the names of three young men who were put to death for their refusal to worship the state gods of the Roman Empire.

 

We understand that the earliest Christians often experienced adverse discrimination during the days of the Roman Empire – sometimes leading to arrest, torture and even death - but it was not until the third and fourth centuries that harsh persecutory edicts were issued by the Emperors that presented many of them with very stark choices.  They either had to betray their faith and offer sacrifices to the state gods or suffer the consequences.  Thousands were put to death and many more suffered loss of job, home, earnings and security or, even worse, floggings, torture and imprisonment.

 

We may think that nothing like this would happen in our own day, but of course it does.  Quite often we will find stories in our papers about Christians being attacked, churches being bombed or burned down, sometimes in countries where the majority practice another faith, or where two faiths co-exist side by side without sufficient police protection and there is a history of mutual antagonism.

 

Even more difficult for us to accept in our western democracies are laws that make it illegal in some places for anyone to convert to Christianity from the majority faith.  For us the freedom to believe and worship as we wish are regarded as fundamental human rights although, of course, it was not always like that.  Turn the clock back four hundred years or so to the days of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and the religious thought police were just as active in western Europe as they are today elsewhere.

 

Recently there have been reports of a 45 year old man called Said Musa who, since May last year, has been held in prison in Kabul, Afghanistan for the crime of converting to Christianity.  Nine years ago he was baptised by a western Christian with a jug of water poured over his head while verses from the Bible were recited.  Nothing happened until some film footage of other Afghans being baptised was shown on television, provoking anti-Christian riots by students in Kabul.

 

According to the press reports, just as President Karzai ordered his interior minister to deal with the outbreak of rioting, so Said Musa’s photograph, address and details of his beliefs were posted on an Iranian website.  This led to his arrest, to alleged beatings, sexual harassment and threats of execution if Said Musa did not renounce his Christian faith.  At the time of writing, just like Alban, Valentine and George, Said Musa is refusing to oblige and says that he is prepared to die rather than renounce the faith that he so strongly believes.  By the time you read this, it may have happened.

 

We might well wonder why our men and women are fighting and dying apparently to support a regime that allows its citizens to be treated in that way.  However, that would be to misunderstand the delicate balance of forces that enables Karzai to remain in power and not be overthrown by the more extreme and far more anti-Western elements in his country.  In other words, those who know best may sense that it is more in our interests not to interfere in the plight of Said Musa and others like him in the hope of securing a better future for his country and possibly for the world at large.

 

We must be thankful that the babies, children and adults who are baptised in our churches are very unlikely to face the prospect the prison or execution for having water poured over them as a sign of their wishing to belong to the Christian faith.  Sixty years ago and more, it was very unusual for a baby born in this country not be baptised a Christian and, when you were asked about your religion, it was not about your chosen faith, but which Christian church you and your family belonged to.

 

Nowadays, those who seek baptism for their child are not usually just conforming to social and family expectations.  It is far more likely to be a conscious choice, born out of a conviction about the Christian faith, about the truths and the values that it embodies.  Of course, the ceremony also celebrates the arrival of a newcomer into a human family, expressing the joy and thankfulness of the parents and others in the family for the gift of a new life.  But the faith dimension is often there as well, and parents want their child to know about God, to hear the stories and the teachings that are at the heart of what Christians believe and try to live out in their lives.

 

But we know that children are shaped far more by what is caught than what is taught.  They tend to learn more from what we do than from what we say and, if they do not like what we do, they may well react and do things differently.  Sooner or later, in bits and pieces, we all grow up and sort out our own lives.  If and when we know our own minds, and we decide that we want to commit ourselves to the Christian faith into which we were baptised, then we still have the opportunity of making that decision and taking a clear step towards doing that.  The pouring of water over the head can be completed by the laying of hands on our heads by a Bishop at another ceremony, praying for us in words that reflect what has already begun to happen in our hearts: Confirm, O Lord, your servant with your Holy Spirit.

 

Confirmation Service

We are now planning for a Confirmation Service here in the Teign Valley later this year.  However old or young you are, if you think this might be for you, or you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

Special events ahead

Group Celebration Eucharist – Sunday 27th February 11.00 am – at Dunsford

Over the last six years or more our Group of Churches in the Teign Valley and Haldon Hill area has gradually evolved from an informal working together that began in November 2004 into a fully commended and celebrated Mission Community in November 2009.    Now we have completed the final step of achieving legal status as the United Benefice of Christow, Ashton, Bridford, Dunchideock, Dunsford and Doddiscombsleigh.  The Bishop of Exeter signed the necessary papers in October last year and our six parishes are legally committed to each other.  To mark this, our good friend the Bishop of Crediton is returning to lead a celebration of our new status.  This will take the form of a Group Eucharist to be held at Dunsford Parish Church on Sunday 27th February at 11.00 am.

 

Women’s World Day of Prayer – Friday 4th March

This popular service with an international flavour will be at Dunsford on Friday 4th March at 2.30 pm.  Speaker: Mrs Susie Ursell.

 

Spring Concert – Christow Church – Saturday 5th March at 7.30 pm

This been given the title of ‘Music to Herald the Spring’ – and there will certainly be a rich variety of music to put the spring back into our step performed by our local talented singers and musicians.  Tickets £6 from PCC members or on the door.

 

Ash Wednesday

Wed 9th March at 10.00 am in Christow / 7.30 pm in Dunchideock

Since Easter does not fall until 24th April, Lent is very late this year.  As in previous years, to get Lent off to a start, there will be Ash Wednesday services on 9th March at Christow at 10.00 in the morning and at Dunchideock at 7.30 in the evening.

 

This year’s Lent course: Thursday mornings or evenings from 17th March

This year at our church services, most of our gospels readings are taken from Mathew, and so for the Lent Course this year, I am proposing to take a closer look at what we call the Matthew Passion.  Famously set to music in dramatised form by J S Bach, Matthew’s take on the Passion Story is his own.  To find out what this might be, and to reflect at leisure on the story as a whole, please join me either on Thursday mornings 10.30 – 12.00 or evenings 7.30 – 9.00 starting on March 17th.  We meet in the mornings at The Spinney, Bridford, by kind invitation of Francis and Daphne Leversedge and in the evenings at Wood View, Dunsford, by kind invitation of Liz and Phil Bastin.

 

Lent Lunches

In Dunsford Lent Lunches are being held on Mondays at 12.30 pm at The Walled Garden.  

 

Looking back

Taizé Style Worship – Christow Church

Over forty people were in Christow Church on 6th February for a Service in the spirit of Taizé on the theme of ‘Trust’.  Surrounded by candles, we experienced a series of reflective readings and songs, beautifully led by our own local musicians and singers.  Our thanks to all who took part especially to Daphne West for leading the music and to Liz Hogg for devising and compiling the order of service.

 

Annual Church Meetings

All parishioners are invited to attend our Annual Church Meetings:

Ashton                          Wednesday 30th March at 2.30 pm in the Village Hall

Bridford                        Wednesday 13th April at 2.30 pm in Church

Christow                       Wednesday 20th April at 7.45 pm in Church (NB tbc)

Doddiscombsleigh         Wednesday 27th April at 7.30 pm in Church (NB tbc)

Dunchideock                 Monday 18th April at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall

Dunsford                       Wednesday 23rd March at 7.30 pm in Church

All nominations for Churchwardens and PCC members should be made before the meetings using lists at the back of our churches.  Nominations are also invited for Deanery Synod to serve for the next three years.  Anyone on the Church’s Electoral Roll is eligible for election.

 

From The Registers

Funerals

January 23rd                   Caroline Wright (Interment of Ashes at Ashton)

February 3rd                   Doris Harradine (Cremation at Lydney)

February 4th                             Edna Payne (Interment of Ashes at Dunchideock)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

 

Graham Mayer

 

 

February

It never ceases to amaze me just how easy it can be, in our apparently overcrowded island, to find places of peace and solitude.  We have our coastal walks, our network of rural footpaths and our national parks, and within 20-30 minutes you can often find quiet spots where you can stay reasonably undisturbed.  Occasionally a fellow walker may pass by, but all you will hear will be the sound of the sea, the wind, the birds, maybe distant traffic, a passing plane or helicopter.

 

Such peace and solitude is not to everyone’s taste, and it’s probably just as well that we are all different.  While I am perfectly happy to drive up to Dartmoor and just enjoy the wide open space, its freedom, beauty and quiet, I know that others go to the same places and feel very uncomfortable.  They say there’s nothing to do and nothing to see except grass, rocks, heather and a few boring animals.

 

Some people, however, value the experience and can find plenty to do - whether it’s rock climbing, bird watching, a picnic and games, letter boxing or just a pleasant stroll or hike.  For them these places are precious and need protecting and for those who just want to find a quiet solitary place, maybe to reflect and feel closer to God, they are sacred and special.  So if, for example, the granite tors were to be covered in graffiti, or vehicles started driving across the rough terrain, such people might well feel that their special place had been desecrated.

 

Wild places need protecting and so do holy places.  In an increasingly overcrowded and multi-cultural world that is clearly becoming more difficult and more necessary.  A few years ago there was controversy when Jeremy Clarkson famously drove his 4x4 up a Scottish mountain.  To some it felt like desecration.  It was not just that the tyres damaged a few plants and eroded some soil on the way.  It was an invasion of a sacred place.

 

We have in all four of our gospels the story of how angry Jesus was when he saw the sacred space in the Temple at Jerusalem being taken over by moneychangers and traders.  They were charging extortionate rates to the pilgrims who needed to buy pigeons for sacrificial offerings or change their ordinary money into Temple coinage.  The story tells us that Jesus grabbed a whip and drove out those who had turned a house of prayer into a place of corruption and exploitation.

 

Jesus’s outburst in the Temple is quite different to the answer he gives in another quite different context.  The question arises as to whether it is right for Jews to have to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor.  He tells them to show him a coin and asks whose head is engraved on it.  With the Emperor’s head clearly before them, he tells them to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.

 

So how far is it appropriate to go in imposing our own beliefs and convictions on the lives of other people?  It can be quite difficult to argue with people who have a strong sense of the authority that governs their lives, especially when that authority derives from a written text and a very narrow and literal interpretation of that text.  Such dogmatism is around in all faiths and can leave other people feeling powerless, unable to challenge or apply reason to what look like arbitrary pronouncements.  If God, or some honoured prophet or guru, has told someone to live their life in a certain way, how do we start to argue with that?

 

There is a world of difference between a shared consensus that is accepted within a religious or other close community and a personal conviction that people try to impose on others who may not share that conviction.  Recent cases involving guests staying at a hotel or employees who feel unable to fulfil the policies operated by their employer have brought these issues to the fore.  To treat them as religious persecution is both absurd and highly arrogant.  How many of us can be so bold as to claim to know the mind of God?  The truth is not imprisoned in any particular text and even less in any one interpretation of it.  The truth is out there and we are still learning.

 

Over the last fifty years we have moved from living in a culture where most people shared the same assumptions and beliefs.  Now we are in a place of far greater freedom and variety.  This means that we have to take the trouble to learn and understand where others are coming from, and to respect them for it.  We do not all think alike and there is so much still to be learned about other people if only we could open our eyes to the rich variety of gifts and insights that there are around us.  But ignorance, disrespect and the treating of certain rights as absolute and paramount, and in so doing ride rough shod over others, will only risk taking us all back into the dark ages.

 

Special events during February

Taizé Style Worship – Christow Church - Sunday 6th February at 6.00 pm

This month we are providing another opportunity to experience worship using music and songs developed by the Taizé Community in France.  The songs are short and simple, and very easily learned with very accessible and often lovely melodies.  The setting is simple and relaxed and between the songs there will be readings, prayers and short periods of silence for reflection.  Christow Church - Sunday 6th February at 6.00 pm.  

 

Group Celebration Eucharist – Sunday 27th February 11.00 am – at Dunsford

Over the last six years or more our Group of Churches in the Teign Valley and Haldon Hill area has gradually evolved from an informal working together that began in November 2004 into a fully commended and celebrated Mission Community in November 2009.    Now we have completed the final step of achieving legal status as the United Benefice of Christow, Ashton, Bridford, Dunchideock, Dunsford and Doddiscombsleigh.  The Bishop signed the necessary papers in October last year and our six parishes are legally committed to each other.  To mark this, our good friend the Bishop of Crediton is returning to lead a celebration of our new status.  This will take the form of a Group Eucharist to be held at Dunsford Parish Church on Sunday 27th February at 11.00 am.

 

Looking ahead

Ash Wednesday

Wed 9th March at 10.00 am in Christow / 7.30 pm in Dunchideock

Since Easter does not fall until 24th April, Lent is very late this year.  As in previous years, to get Lent off to a start, there will be Ash Wednesday services at Christow at 10.00 in the morning and at Dunchideock at 7.30 in the evening.

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their meetings as follows:

Doddiscombsleigh – Thursday 3rd February at 7.30 pm at Oakley

Dunchideock – Monday 7th February at 7.30 pm at Christow Rectory

Ashton - Wednesday 9th February at 2.30 pm at George Teign Barton

Dunsford – Wednesday 9th February at 7.30 pm at 9 Brownings Mead

Christow – Wednesday 16th February at 7.45 pm at Christow Rectory

Bridford - Wednesday 23rd February at 2.30 pm at Connetts Cottage

 

From The Registers

Funerals

January 7th           Barbara Gibbon (Christow)

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

 

Graham Mayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BLUE WAVE REPORT

 

In December, Robin Murch invited people to join him on the Blue Wave Train.  Now he reports and reflects on the experience. Robin is a retired Anglican priest living in Dawlish who regularly assists at church services in the Teign Valley Group  There is also a report with pictures on the Exeter Diocese web site, well worth visiting.

 

The Blue train from Plymouth, Newton Abbot and Exeter took 450 ‘prophets’ to London on 5th December to join an amazing march of 50,000 people from Hyde Park to Parliament Square. It was well organised and everyone was dressed colourfully in blue.  It was fun and inspiring and happily choked up Central London for a couple of hours.

 

It was very plain that a lot of people care about the future of our planet and about the Copenhagen Conference as a vital moment in World History – it is happening as I write.  These prophets all wished to give support to our World Leaders in their endeavour to reach the best decisions for our future.  Whether they will or not, time will tell, but it felt that we were now at a special moment in history – what we might call a kairos moment.

 

A kairos moment is a moment given by God that changes the course of history.  The insignificant birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was such a moment for those few who were there – shepherds, visiting wise men and no doubt several locals - those who had eyes to see.  Christmas is now well behind us – but we celebrate it each year as the greatest kairos moment ever.

 

We go on having kairos moments even today, such as the European Ecumenical Assembly in Basel 1989 when thousands of Christians, including myself, came together for ten days and anticipated a God-given moment that was coming. It did.  The Berlin Wall came down later that year.  Another kairos moment was the end of apartheid in South Africa.

 

So back in December I went with a train load of ‘prophets’ to London.  Most were Christian people of one kind or another moved by the Spirit - a spirit fuelled by faith, compassion and justice given to them by God. They had a profound thoughtfulness about climate change and the future of our world.  Such people are much needed now.

 

We all know that we can not go on as we are.  Oil, water and food could well run out at some point in the not so distant future.  Climate change is already happening now but come what may the planet will go on.  But what about human society? What will be our fate?  These are uncomfortable thoughts!  Our first fearful reaction might be to protect ourselves and our children - grab all we can for us and the Devil take the hindmost!  This is an instinctive survival reaction.  We can anticipate many people and nations will do just that.

That is why we need plenty of prophets to lead us from selfish destruction to a different world: prophets who are loaded with hope showing us that a better world is possible; pioneering prophets who will reveal a better world, a world inhabited by a united and caring humanity living on a sustainable planet. God has given us and them the blueprint of this in the Bible.

 

Where are such prophets to be found? Who will encourage them?  Who will share good theology with them to support them in their task?  Who will pray for them?  The obvious answer is God’s Church.  We are all called to be part of it‘s fellowship.  Whether we ride on a Blue Wave train or not, our calling to be an active part of the Kingdom of God could not be clearer.

 

Robin Murch.

 

January

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.  Some of you may recognise the opening line of the prose poem Desiderata - a poem that is full of good thoughts with which to start a New Year.  It offers good thoughts about peace, about self-belief and about confidence in the life that has been given to us.  It is addressed to people of all faiths and no faith and it ends on a rather topical note by exhorting us to be cheerful and to strive to be happy.

 

The full text is readily available online and in many shops, so I am not going to take up valuable space in this magazine by reproducing it all here.  The title, of course, is in Latin and means the things that are to be desired.  So Desiderata is a wish list or, if you prefer, a set of aspirations - a list of things to aspire to in our daily living.

 

Things like peace and harmony in our relationships with other people, the importance of appreciating ourselves and valuing our own qualities as well as the qualities we find in other people.  It speaks about the gift of growing old gracefully, letting go the things of youth and valuing the wisdom that we acquire with the passing of years.  It talks of developing strength of spirit, of not dwelling upon fears and imaginings.

 

One bit I especially like is the advice to be gentle with ourselves.  You are a child of the universe and you have a right to be here.  Even without all the pressure of expectations, targets and standards all around that can make some people feel quite inadequate, these are words that we need to hear more often.  And finally, however you conceive God, be at peace with Him.  In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

 

Easier said than done, you might be thinking to yourself.  And yet nowhere in this poem is there any pretence that we live in a perfect world or that our journey through this life will be anything but bumpy and challenging.  Desiderata certainly does not paint a trouble-free world in which we try to aspire to happiness.  The world is full of trickery, it says, full of sham, drudgery and broken dreams.  We will meet loud and aggressive people who are vexations to the spirit.  Yet amidst all the aridity and disenchantment, all the noise and haste and in the face of changing fortunes, the individual can still aspire to be cheerful and to strive for happiness, and it is still a very beautiful world.

 

Although Max Ehrmann wrote the words of his poem just over eighty years ago, they did not come to public attention until they made it into the Top Ten as a spoken word recording in the 1970s.  Since then its popularity has mushroomed and shows no sign of dying.  As well as finding it online, you can get it on posters, parchments and bookmarks and you can even have it tattooed on your back, on your front, on your thighs or wherever else takes your fancy.

 

Today Max Ehrmann would have made a fortune.  However, being a lawyer, he was not exactly poor, but he died in 1945 with no way of knowing the immortal fame that his words have acquired.  Today he lies buried in the Highland Lawn Cemetery at Terre Haute in Indiana, and only last year his home town honoured him with a life-size bronze statue that shows him sitting on a bench, pen in hand, notebook in his lap, with a portion of the ‘Desiderata’ engraved on a plaque next to the statue.

 

Nowadays Desiderata takes its place alongside the many volumes of wisdom literature that have accumulated over the centuries.  Every world culture has them and, as we might expect, there is a fair degree of overlap in the sort of advice that is given.  The Bible is no exception and in the Jewish Scripture of the Old Testament we find a fair sized section of wisdom writing, the most famous being Ecclesiastes and Proverbs.

 

In the New Testament, we find, of course, the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth who, among many other things, has to rank as one of the great teachers of worldly wisdom.  Jesus knew exactly where his wisdom came from.  Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, and many of his sayings and thoughts on the question of happiness have been collected in what we now refer to as the Sermon on the Mount.

 

For Jesus, God is the source of all love, goodness and wisdom and his first principle was to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.  The only other thing that really matters is to love our neighbour in the same way as we love ourselves.  This was the basis of his golden rule to do unto others and you would have them do unto you.

 

Max Ehrmann does not tell us the sources of his wisdom, but he shares with Jesus the conviction that, in the noisy confusion of life, amidst all the trickery and uncertainty,

 we should not live by worrying, but by trusting.  We should have a deep and real sense of our worth as a child of God, as a child of the universe, to know that we have a right to be here.  He also shares the belief that, whether it is clear to us or not, we should have no doubt that God is working his purpose out and the world is unfolding just as it should.               

 

Getting to Church this Christmas - as some of you receive this magazine before Christmas, here are some reminders:

 

·Carol Services

Dunchideock - Sunday 19th December at 4.30 pm

ChristowSunday 19th December at 6.30 pm

Dunsford – Sunday 19th December at 6.30 pm

Doddiscombsleigh – Monday 20th December at 7.30 pm

– once again taking the form of a Village Nativity with Carols

Bridford – Christmas Eve, 24th December at 6.00 pm

 

·Crib Service

Dunchideock – Thursday 23rd December at 4.00 pm

Dunsford – Christmas Eve, 24th December at 4.00 pm

 

·Midnight Mass

Ashton/Doddiscombsleigh/Dunchideock/Dunsford – Christmas Eve at 11.30 pm

 

·Christmas Morning Services

Christow – Family Communion at 10.00 am

Dunsford – Family Service at 10.00 am

 

Boxing Day – Sunday 26th December

There will only be one service on St Stephen’s Day - Holy Communion (BCP) at Christow at 10.00 am – a quiet said service with no carols or sermon!

 

Looking back to Christmas

You may read this before Christmas is over, but thank you to those who have worked hard to prepare and decorate our churches for the Christmas services – with trees, flowers, candles, cribs and everything else that combines to provide a seasonal atmosphere for our worship.  Thank you also to who have played, read or provided any other special input into our Christingle, Crib and Carol Services.  At a busy time of year, all this extra work and time that is given is much appreciated.  Thank you also to our Bell Ringers – not just at Christmas – but for their time and commitment throughout the year that are appreciated by so many.

 

The Month Ahead

All Age Service Planning

For those people who are already involved in planning Family and All Age Services, and for anyone else who would like to be, there will be a training session with Katherine Lyddon, the Diocesan Children’s Adviser, on Saturday 29th January 10.00 am – 12 noon in the Bowden Room at the Teign Valley Community Hall.  Further details from Ian West (253104).

 

Group Council

The next meeting of the Group Council is on Thursday 27th January at 7.30 pm at The Spinney, Bridford

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their meetings as follows:

Ashton – to be rearranged

Doddiscombsleigh – Thursday 3rd February at 7.30 pm at Oakley

Dunchideock – Monday 7th February at 7.30 pm at Christow Rectory

Dunsford – Wednesday 9th February at 7.30 pm at 9 Brownings Mead

Christow – Wednesday 16th February at 7.45 pm at The Rectory

Bridford - Wednesday 23rd February at 2.30 pm at Connetts Cottage

 

From The Registers

Weddings

December 11th      Paul Tripp and Sophie Cunnington (Ashton)

Funerals

December 7th             Stuart Casley (Christow)

Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Getting in touch

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

                                                                                                Graham Mayer

 

 

 

December

At Christmas time, alongside the story of the shepherds and the angels, of Mary and Joseph, the innkeeper and the wise men following the star from the East, we may also find ourselves listening to the opening words of the gospel according to John.

John’s gospel does not give us the dramatic story that we might see children acting out in a nativity tableau or that we will be singing about in the words of our favourite carols.  The Christmas story as we usually tell it is an amalgam of two separate stories that we find in Matthew and Luke – the angels, the shepherds, the manger and the inn all come from Luke, while Joseph’s dream, Herod and the wise men all come from Matthew.  The stable, the ox and the ass are later additions!

But John’s way of announcing the coming of Christ into the world is very different.  He starts his version with a proclamation: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

When we hear this, as we often do in the final reading at the church carol service, we hear something that on the surface sounds very simple.  At the same time we sense that it is probably not quite as simple as it sounds.  And as it goes on, the words stay simple, but their meaning becomes all the more difficult to follow.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

Many people will be celebrating Christmas as they usually do without any reference to Christianity.  Turkey and tinsel, Santa and stockings, mince pies and puddings and frantic last minute shopping have little to do with Christianity.  When it comes to Christmas cards, the ones that mention the Christmas story are a minority taste.  Most people want to keep the Christmas name, but for many it is little more than a winter holiday, a festivity that had its origins in ancient celebrations of the rebirth of the year at the time of the solstice when the days started getting longer again.

For early Christians seeking to celebrate the birth of Christ, the coming of the true light into the world as John’s gospel describes it, the pagan festivals of light were tailor made and easily adapted.  They just joined in with something that people already enjoyed doing and gave it a new meaning and a new name.  It took off and has been with us ever since.

But God’s gift of his Son is not just for Christmas.  It’s for all year round.  Gospel means ‘good news’ and while Matthew and Luke reveal the wonder and the mystery of God at work in the story of how Jesus was born, John wants us to recognise that what happened is good news for our lives here and now.  He wrote his gospel in order that we might believe and, in believing, have eternal life.  That is not only about what might happen to us when we die. It’s also about enhancing the quality of life for all people in the here and now.

John’s version of the good news also tells us that, in order to see God at work, a drastic change is needed in our hearts and minds, a change of outlook so drastic that he describes it as being born again.  Of course, this has nothing to do with biology.  It is simply that, in order to see the world and our lives through God’s eyes and to have a sense of his purposes being fulfilled in this world, a fresh start is needed.  But if we are willing to give it a go and take the risky step of putting our faith and trust in Jesus as the one that God has sent, and putting it into practice in our lives, we shall certainly see things in a new and better way.

Jesus cannot be summed up in a word and our carols are full of the various labels that were needed to tell us who he is.  Christ (or Messiah) is not a surname but a title that tells us that he came to fulfil God’s eternal purposes.  Son of Man underlines his full humanity and Son of God has nothing to do with biological reproduction, but reveals his true origins.  Jesus is Saviour because he deals with the flaws in our human nature showing how it is always possible to make fresh starts and leave behind the damage that we do, the mistakes and the bad choices that we all make in one way or another. 

Finally Jesus is Lord because he invites us to come to him in a relationship of belief and trust.  Taking that step of faith is not easy.  Our lives will certainly change as, along with millions of others, we join the worldwide community of faith, as we experience the blessing of knowing ourselves to be loved by God and as we  gradually find ourselves being shaped and transformed into the people we have it in ourselves to be.

Getting to Church this Christmas

All our village churches offer a full range of services this Christmas:

 

·        Christingle Services

Dunsford – December 5th at 10.00 am

Christow – December 5th at 5.00 pm

Bridford – December 5th at 5.00 pm

Doddiscombsleigh – Thursday 9th December at 6.30 pm

Dunchideock – December 12th at 5.00 pm

Please note that the Ashton service will be held jointly at Christow.

 

·        Carol Services

Ashton – Sunday 12th December at 4.00 pm

Dunchideock - Sunday 19th December at 4.30 pm

ChristowSunday 19th December at 6.30 pm

Dunsford – Sunday 19th December at 6.30 pm

Doddiscombsleigh – Monday 20th December at 7.30 pm

– once again taking the form of a Village Nativity with Carols

Bridford – Christmas Eve, 24th December at 6.00 pm

 

·        Crib Services

Dunchideock - Christmas Eve, 24th December at 4.00 pm (time to be confirmed)

Dunsford – Christmas Eve, 24th December at 4.00 pm

 

·        Midnight Eucharists

Ashton/Doddiscombsleigh/Dunchideock/Dunsford – Christmas Eve at 11.30 pm

 

·        Christmas Morning Services

Christow – Family Communion at 10.00 am

Dunsford – Family Service at 10.00 am

 

·        Boxing Day Sunday (St Stephen’s Day)

There will only be one service in the Group on Sunday 26th December – Holy Communion BCP at Christow at 10.00 am.

 

Confirmation Service

Many people are baptised or christened into the Christian faith at an age when they had no idea what was happening to them.  For adults, and for children old enough to know their own minds, the Church of England offers the opportunity to confirm the importance of God in our lives and to move forward on our journey of faith as we renew our belonging to the worldwide Christian community.  Preparation for this takes the form of exploring with others what the Christian faith is all about, reflecting on the questions that puzzle us and being able to openly acknowledge our doubts.  We are now thinking about preparing for a Confirmation Service here in the Teign Valley in the next year or so.  If you think this might be for you, or you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

Holy Communion – each Sunday at 8.30 am and 10.00 am

On the night before he died, Jesus invited all his followers to remember him by sharing bread and wine, a outward and physical activity that has a profound inner and spiritual meaning.  Services that include Holy Communion are held each Sunday in at least one of the churches in our group – at 8.30 am (no hymns and no sermon) or at 10.00 am (with hymns and sermon).  Moving around churches in now becoming the norm so please refer to the guide printed at the back of this magazine.  We try to be as inclusive as our medieval church buildings allow with access aids, large print service booklets and hymn books.  If required, copies of my sermon can be made available by request for deaf or deafened people.  If you let us know what your needs are, we can try to meet them.  Holy Communion at home is also available for those who not able to get to church. 

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

October 24th         Amelia Violet Louise Thomas (Dunsford)

November 7th        Joshua Ben Pinnington Powell (Bridford)

Weddings

October 16th         Sam Twitchen and Tafline Firth (Dunchideock)

                             Brian Prowse and Tracey Fidock (Christow)

Funerals

October 19th         Betty Miller (Christow - at Exeter Crematorium)

November 15th      Alan Smallridge (Dunsford)

We offer our sympathy and prayers to the family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.  Finally, Jackie, Stuart, Edward and I wish you all a very joyful Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year.

 

                                                                                                         Graham Mayer

November

November 22nd is St Cecilia’s Day and, since the 16th century, the name of St Cecilia has been associated with music.  Somewhere a group of musicians decided that she should be their Patron Saint.  The idea caught on and has been celebrated ever since, and nowadays special concerts are often held in her memory on or around her day.

 

These concerts are usually a celebration of music for its own sake, and there is nothing wrong with that.  The gift of music is a wonderful thing – both the making of music, and also the listening and the enjoyment of it.  It is a truly universal language, and binds people together probably more powerfully than any other single force.  It can create excitement and movement both in the body and in the soul.  It can express the darkest and deepest of emotions, become a voice for our yearnings and aspirations, arouse the sense of belonging and solidarity, touch and open up feelings within us that we hardly knew existed.  Sometimes the words that accompany music are part of it all, but they are not essential.  It is the music that does the work.

 

As with many names from the ancient past, there is practically nothing of any certainty that we can say about Cecilia.  The only historical fact we know is that a lady called Cecily founded a house church in Rome and, when she died, was buried with special honour in a Christian cemetery.  By the year 545, she was known as St Cecily, and someone had compiled a Passion of Saint Cecily, a book full of stories written to justify the honour attached to her name.

 

These stories tell how she was forced into marriage against her wishes, having made vows of perpetual virginity.  However she managed to persuade her pagan husband to respect her vows, and also won him over into adopting her beliefs.  He was baptised, along with his brother and a friend.  At a time of persecution of Christians by the Roman authorities, the three men were put to death for refusing to sacrifice to a pagan idol.  When Cecily was similarly accused, she was sentenced to be stifled to death in her bathroom, where the steam and the heat were raised to seven times their normal intensity.  Even so, she survived and an executioner was sent to deal with her, making such a clumsy job of it that she took three days to die.

 

Her association with music comes from descriptions in the Passion of her singing ‘in her heart’, both at the wedding she did not want, and during her suffering and dying.  It was music and spiritual songs that she used to comfort and strengthen herself.  Music and singing, it seemed, were her way of praying.  The people around her clearly knew that and that memory of her is the one that has endured and is associated with her even today.

 

When you think about it, the range and quality of music that is available to us today is astounding.  Standards in both live and recorded music have never been higher.  But perfect sound and unlimited choice are not everything.  Nothing replaces the thrill and excitement, or the depth of feeling, when we use music to celebrate or commemorate something truly central to our lives.  For Christians music has always been a vehicle for worship.  Music has the power to connect us to God and to our inner selves.  It is not the only means, and not everyone feels the same about it, but in this month associated with Cecilia or Cecily, patron saint of musicians, I feel excused for expressing my own enthusiasm for one of life’s, for one of God’s, great gifts.

         

Special occasions in November

 

Family Service – Sunday 7th November – 10.00 am at Christow Church

There will be a special All-Age Service at Christow Church on 7th November with the Blessing and Collection of Shoeboxes.  Operation Christmas Child is a well-established and highly effective way of responding to the needs of others and is being supported by our village schools.

 

Remembrance Sunday Services – Sunday 7th November

This year Remembrance Sunday falls on 7th November, and there will be appropriate services with an Act of Remembrance in each of our village churches:

Ashton – 9.30 Remembrance Sunday Service

Bridford – 10.30 Remembrance Sunday Service

Doddiscombsleigh – 10.50 Service of Remembrance

followed by ceremony at the War Memorial

Dunchideock – 10.50 Parish Communion with Act of Remembrance

Dunsford – 10.50 Service of Remembrance

Christow – 10.55 Parish Communion with Act of Remembrance

 

Shoebox Sundays – Operation Christmas Child

Bring your shoeboxes to a 10.00 am Service on one of the following:

October 31st at Doddiscombsleigh

November 7th at Christow, Dunsford and Doddiscombsleigh

Leaflets are available for Operation Christmas Child and these are the latest dates for bringing your shoeboxes to church for blessing and collection.  Shoeboxes can also be collected in other ways – please contact Annabelle Hofmann (252961) for further information.

 

Christingles

Candles, oranges, sweets on sticks and bright red ribbon - it’s our first taste of Christmas in church.  Be sure to bring your children along to one of our Christingle Services at the beginning of December:

Dunsford - Sunday 5th December at 10.00 am

Christow - Sunday 5th December at 5.00 pm

Bridford – Sunday 5th December at 5.00 pm

Dunchideock - Sunday 12th December at 5.00 pm

Please note that this year that Ashton joins Christow for a joint event.

 

Harvest Thanksgiving Services

Thank you to all those who decorated the churches and donated flowers, greenery and produce for our Harvest Thanksgiving Services.  Thank you too to all those involved in preparing and serving the lunches and suppers, and in selling the produce.  As well as celebrating the good things in life, we were also remembering the needs of others.  Generous amounts were raised to send to the appropriate organisations and goods that were not auctioned for this purpose were given to Age Concern in Exeter

 

 

Teign Valley & Haldon Hill Group of Churches

The six village churches in our Group have now been together for six years, sharing ministry and other resources, but also concerned with sustaining each church as a centre for worship and faith in its local community.  Together with Dunsford at the northern end of the Teign Valley, our Group also includes Bridford and Christow on one side of the river, and on the other Ashton whose parish area along with those of Doddiscombsleigh and Dunchideock straddle the Haldon Hill.

For six years, we have been together on an informal basis, but now we have become legalised and the knot has been tied.  In September a Pastoral Measure was drawn up by the Church Commissioners in London and it came into effect as from 1st October.

This also means that those who are qualified by past or present residence or family connection to be married in this area, or have banns called, will be able to do so at any of the churches in the Group.

 

Confirmation Service

We are now thinking about the possibility of having a Confirmation Service here in the Teign Valley in 2011.  If you think this might be for you, or you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

PCC Meetings

A reminder for PCC members of the next meetings:

Christow              Wednesday 3rd November at 7.45 pm at The Rectory

Dunchideock       Monday 22nd November at 7.30 pm at Christow Rectory

 

From The Registers

Funerals

September 24th     John  Prowse (Christow)

October 1st            Jack Bond (Dunsford)

October 6th            Mary Underhill (Burial at Bridford)

We extend our sympathy and prayers to the family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.                                           Graham Mayer

October

There was a time, not so long ago, when the people who lived in small rural farming communities in our land were deeply affected by the success or failure of the annual harvest.  If it was good, the gathering in would be a community event, long days of intense physical work for every fit man, woman and child, cutting and collecting or just picking up the leftovers, often called leazings, that they could take home and use to feed themselves during the winter. 

 

However successful the harvesting might turn out to be, it was always hard work.  However, the toil could be lightened by the sense of doing it together or by getting into a rhythm of working that was helped by the singing of songs.  They may also have had cider on hand to slake the thirst and, once the harvest was all in, they could look forward to celebrating with a village party of some kind.

 

Around two hundred years ago, there began a dramatic drift of population away from the countryside into towns and cities, and so the majority of people lost their direct contact with agriculture, with the production of food or other crops.  This trend has continued and many of us around today have seen how, with mechanisation and sophisticated technology, farming has become a specialist and rather isolated activity.  In our culture, any sense of being a community responsible for feeding itself off the land has all but disappeared.

 

A small number of people have chosen to remain or return to the land.  They do it for a variety of reasons.  They may simply have inherited it and want to carry on doing it so long as they can make a living from it.  Or they have chosen to do it for reasons of ideology, for the pleasure and satisfaction of it or in seeking an alternative lifestyle.  Some have a vision of what they would like to do, perhaps to develop a particular area of husbandry or specialise in a certain kind of production.  It may be a challenge but they passionately want to do it.

 

But the vast majority of the people across the world, living in ever-expanding towns and cities, have limited awareness of agriculture.  Children have to be taught to see the connection between the food on their plate and the animals or plants that provide it.  And with our global economy, how many are aware of where our food comes from, of the vast distances it may travel, how it is processed or preserved for such long periods?

 

So in today’s world, it may seem somewhat strange, even out of touch, that schools and churches persist in holding an annual harvest thanksgiving every autumn.  We are clearly no longer celebrating the fact that all is safely gathered in before the winter storms begin.  Rather schools and churches tend to see it as an opportunity to raise awareness of a wider range of issues that connect to all the varied resources that sustain us in our daily living.  These include not only where our food actually derives from and how we get it but also environmental issues, issues of world poverty, global warming and the impact of war and natural disaster on fragile and vulnerable communities.

Many of these are interconnected and, quite often, we are invited to respond as generously as we feel able to those who have greater needs or whose lives are blighted by events in the world today.  In addition, it is an opportunity to express an underlying sense of appreciation and thankfulness for all that sustains and enriches our lives.

 

For as far back as we can trace, people have felt the urge to express thanksgiving for the gifts that we enjoy in the natural world, whatever our view may be on how such a world came into being, and alongside thanksgiving, to experience the blessing of offering something back in a spirit of generous giving.  Not necessarily be just what could be spared!  In fact, the custom of offering back the first or best fruits was found to be of greatest benefit and blessing.

 

The world we inhabit is very different of course from that of our ancient ancestors, but the wisdom that they discovered still works.  So whatever angle you approach it from, and however anachronistic it may look, celebrating a Harvest Thanksgiving, followed by some kind of meal or get-together, offers a rich opportunity for experiencing the blessings that come both from being grateful and also from being generous.

 

Harvest Thanksgiving Services

As well as celebrating the good things in life at our Harvest Thanksgiving Services,  we also focus on those who rarely enjoy all the things that we take so much for granted.  Hardly a week goes by without us hearing of people in need in different parts of the world, and so we want our Harvest Celebrations also to be about making a generous offering to those who have so little.

Four of our churches are celebrating Harvest this month:

                 Ashton

                 Sunday 3rd October at 5.00 pm followed by Harvest Tea

                 Dunsford

                 Sunday 3rd October at 10.00 am for a Family Service and also at 6.30 pm for Harvest Evensong followed by Harvest Supper

                 Bridford

                 Sunday 10th October at 11.30 a.m. followed by Harvest Lunch

                 Dunchideock

                 Sunday 10th October at 6.00 p.m. followed by Harvest Supper

Offerings of flowers and produce are much appreciated for decorating the churches and are then used for the benefit of others.  All are welcome.

 

Shoebox Sundays – Operation Christmas Child

Leaflets are now available for Operation Christmas Child with all the information that you need for filling a shoebox with gifts for a child who otherwise would receive no gifts at Christmas.

Shoeboxes need to be ready by the beginning of November and so you are invited to bring your shoeboxes to the 10.00 a.m. Service on one of the following:

October 31st at the Group Service at Doddiscombsleigh

November 7th at Christow, Dunsford and Doddiscombsleigh

At these services, the shoeboxes will be blessed and sent on their way.

Shoeboxes can also be collected from you in other ways – please contact Annabelle Hofmann (252961) for leaflets and further information.

 

Autumn Bible Course

Our Autumn Bible Course based on Luke’s Gospel is continuing on Thursday mornings 10.30 – 12.00 until 21st October.  The venue is The Spinney in Bridford by kind invitation of Francis and Daphne Leversedge.  In the five sessions we are not hoping to cover the whole gospel but rather focussing on aspects of the gospel story that we find exclusively in Luke.  This is why we have called it: Luke – no further!

 

Holy Communion – each Sunday at 8.30 am and 10.00 am

Services that include Holy Communion are held each Sunday in at least one of the churches in our group – at 8.30 am (no hymns and no sermon) or at 10.00 am (with hymns and sermon).  Moving around churches in now becoming the norm so please refer to the guide printed at the back of this magazine.  Please note that the service on Sunday 24th October will be at Bridford.

 

Confirmation Service

We are now thinking about the possibility of having a Confirmation Service here in the Teign Valley in 2011.  If you think this might be for you, or you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

PCC Meetings

A reminder for PCC members of their next meetings:

Christow                    Wednesday 6th October at 7.45 pm at The Rectory

Bridford                    Wednesday 13th October at 2.30 pm at The Spinney

Ashton                       Wednesday 20th October at 2.30 pm at George Teign

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

August 22nd                    Wilf Breading (Doddiscombsleigh)

August 29th           Florence Barker (Dunsford)

Weddings

September 3rd       Tim Goode and Laura Hill (Dunsford)

September 4th       Peter Crome and Layla Harrison (Dunsford)

Funerals

August 11th           Gladys Gates (Christow)        

September 7th       Pearl Jenkings (Interment of Ashes at Dunsford)

September 11th     Donald and Christine Allison

                             (Interment of Ashes at Doddiscombsleigh)

 

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

                                                                                                          Graham Mayer

September

The social ritual of shaking hands with a complete stranger, or with someone we know well, is very familiar to us and is recognised across the world.  Even in this country, with the reputation that we once had for shying away from physical contact, we always managed to shake hands when meeting someone for the first time, when clinching an agreement or when making up after a disagreement or misunderstanding.

 

Now, it seems, many of us and many of those around us are prepared to go even further.  We may not yet be fully comfortable, for example, when men of other nationalities start kissing each other on the cheeks, but people definitely touch and hug more now.  We are learning to value the experience of physical contact not only in greeting, but in celebrating moments of excitement and achievement, and perhaps more importantly in showing sympathy and understanding at times of sadness and pain when words simply do not do the job.

 

Something else that binds people together are shared memories, very often celebrated as anniversaries.  These are very important as it is the past that so often shapes our present and the future.  Families and faiths all have anniversaries that are important to them, some joyful, some painful, all usually evoking people and events of the past that have made us what we are today.  Special days and special people – and very often we do something special to mark the occasion.  It may be a meal, a party, a visit, an outing to a special place, digging out significant objects or photographs.

 

Christian worship has long recognised the importance of these two factors.  First, that we express our thoughts, feelings and beliefs, not only in words, but also physically and with tangible objects.  Second, it can be very important to be in touch with what has gone before, with what has made us who we are today.

 

This is why Sunday is the day for Christians to come together.  Each Sunday is an anniversary of the resurrection of Jesus which, at the time, was the first day of the week.  It was then an ordinary working day, as it is now in non-Christian countries and as it is becoming in post-Christian secular societies.  But for Christians, Sunday will always remain a special day, a holy day, a day set apart from the rest of the week.

 

It is a God-given time to step out of our routine, even if just for an hour or so, and focus on the eternal.  It is also the day when we have the opportunity to take part in what we often call Holy Communion.  This is when we get back in touch with the story, the events, that lie at the heart of the Christian faith and relive them, not only in our minds and hearts, but also with our bodies.  Following the instructions given by Jesus, we take, touch, taste and consume bread and wine as we remember the man who died for us.

 

Jesus himself set this up and, as we believe there were no barriers between his actions and the will of God, we know we are doing it on the highest authority.  In the same way we use water for baptising or christening both new believers and the children of those who already believe.  In the same way there are also occasions, such as confirmation and ordination, when hands are used as a sign of strengthening and conferring God’s grace and power.

 

Bread and wine, water and hands are not just signs but effective means by which God shares himself with us, and comes to dwell within us.  Of course, God is not limited to these, but they have his authority marked upon them and so, in the context of Christian faith and worship, we can put our trust in them.

 

So Christian spirituality is not an abstract other-worldly experience.  It is rooted in the ordinary things that we know and do in this world, which is after all God’s world.  And those ordinary things, dedicated and offered to God in prayer and worship, are transformed into holy things, specially committed to God for his purposes.  But their main purpose is to help us in our daily living, not to be venerated as holy objects.  We do these things in remembrance of him, the one who died for us, so that we may share his life and gradually be transformed into the people God made us to be.

 

Holy Communion – each Sunday at 8.30 am and 10.00 am

Services that include Holy Communion are held each Sunday in at least one of the churches in our group – at 8.30 am (no hymns and no sermon) or at 10.00 am (with hymns and sermon).  Moving around churches in now becoming the norm so please refer to the guide printed at the back of this magazine.

 

Harvest Thanksgiving Services

As well as celebrating the good things in life at our Harvest Thanksgiving Services,  we also focus on those who rarely enjoy all the things that we take so much for granted.  Hardly a week goes by without us hearing of people in need in different parts of the world, and so we want our Harvest Celebrations also to be about making a generous offering to those who have so little.

Most of our churches will be celebrating Harvest next month.  But first off the mark are Bridford on and Doddiscombsleigh – Bridford on Sunday 19th September at 11.30 am followed by Harvest Lunch in the Village Hall and Doddi on Sunday 26th September at 6.30 pm followed by an informal Harvest Supper in Church.  All are welcome.

 

Autumn Bible Course

We are planning an Autumn Bible Course based on Luke’s Gospel.  This will last for five weeks on Thursday mornings 10.30 – 12.00 starting on 23rd September and finishing on 21st October.  The venue will be The Spinney in Bridford by kind invitation of Francis and Daphne Leversedge.  In five weeks, we cannot hope to cover the whole gospel – so this will be more of an in-depth focus on some of the stories that we find only in Luke.  In other words: Luke – no further!

 

 

 

Confirmation Service

We are now thinking about the possibility of having a Confirmation Service here in the Teign Valley in 2011.  If you think this might be for you, or you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

PCC Meetings

A reminder for PCC members of their next meetings:

Doddiscombsleigh     Thursday 16th September at 7.30 pm at Oakley

Dunsford                   Wednesday 22nd September at 7.30 pm at Wood View

Christow                    Wednesday 6th October at 7.45 pm at The Rectory

Bridford                    Wednesday 13th October at 2.30 pm at The Spinney

Ashton                       Wednesday 20th October at 2.30 pm at George Teign

 

From The Registers

Weddings

July 24th               Edward Symes and Emma Whitaker (Dunsford)

August 14th                     James Frayling and Loveday Kitto (Ashton)

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

                                                                                                          Graham Mayer

 

August

Somewhere out there on the edge of my awareness, I am conscious that there is a leadership contest in process for the top position in the Labour Party.  As we are talking about a possible future prime minister for our country, I suppose I ought to be paying more attention.

 

The five candidates comprise two brothers, two Eds, one of whom should have been advised to change his surname years ago, one Catholic and one woman.  I know that makes six, but that is because one of the Eds is also one of the brothers.  One of the candidates is the first black woman to be elected to Parliament, whereas the men are all in the Shadow Cabinet.

 

They have been appearing together quite a bit at various hustings including one held in Westminster Central Hall in early July by the Christian Socialist Movement.  With an audience drawn largely from local church communities, this was clearly not the occasion to state, as Alastair Campbell famously did back in 2003, that ‘we don’t do God’.  Instead they had to venture out of their comfort zones and say something about the core values that inspire and motivate them in their political thinking.

 

Most of them managed to find religious elements in the way they had been brought up and to link these to their political thinkiing.  The father of one of the Eds had been a Sunday School teacher, while the parents of the two brothers had been Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany.  These three were very clear about the connection between their thoughts on matters of ethics, social justice and democracy and the values promoted by the stories in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus.  Love, compassion and caring were particularly important.

 

Likewise the Roman Catholic is reported as claiming that the basic tenets of the Labour Party and the Christian faith are one and the same, although he admitted to feeling quite uncomfortable with the ‘black and white’ approach that his Church hierarchy took to complex moral issues.  The lady from Hackney was less committed and had simply noticed that more people attend faith meetings than political meetings on Sundays.  So she had concluded that she ought to ‘take issues of church and faith very seriously’.

 

They were all clearly adept at carefully adapting themselves to the perceived core interest of their audience, just as members of the royal family and some political leaders adapt the uniform – military or civic – of whatever group or organisation they happen to be visiting.  So it was that President Bush used to be kitted out in desert gear for his visit to the troops in Iraq and even Gordon Brown took off his jacket and tie in Afghanistan, while Prince Philip put on his Busby with uniform and medals for the Trooping of the Colour in June.

 

But there has to be a bit more to it than simply saying, or wearing, the right thing at the right time.  If the core values of a Christian or even secular humanist approach to politics are love, compassion, wholeness and social justice, then we ought perhaps to acknowledge where these ideas have come from.  Likewise the concern that many people share for the care of our planet, its resources and its ecology, is clearly derived from Biblical teaching on creation and our human stewardship of it.

 

As these values exist in other traditions as well, we have to recognise that they are of ancient origin and form part of an accumulated wisdom shared by people of several different cultures.  At the same time, these values are by no means universally admired or followed.  They are in constant battle with other strong and resilient forces within human hearts and minds.  They especially contend with the cruel, ruthless and selfish greed, ambition and exploitation of people and resources that we know are around us all the time.  They struggle against the forces that drive people to deceive, steal, cheat, harm and destroy in pursuit of their own goals and interests.

 

As far as Jesus was concerned, the core values of love, compassion, wholeness and social justice were central to his concept of the kingdom of God.  Not a territorial kingdom, but a kingdom that is being established wherever these core values are being promoted, wherever they are ruling human hearts and minds.  This stands out clearly in his teaching and also in the way he treated the people that he encountered, whether they were rich and powerful or poor, vulnerable and excluded.  It seems that he so embodied the core values that it was as if he was God himself, the Son who was just like his Father. 

 

Worship is about giving supreme honour and worth to those core values of the kingdom of God.  It is also about building a relationship with the love that lies at the heart of life and finding there a source of strength that empowers people in their daily lives and struggles.  Jesus faced the struggle and conflict with the opposing forces and contended with them even to the point of dying rather than give in to them.  His death, however, was no defeat, but a victory.  So long as these values remain central to the thinking of those who govern us, however blurred and muddied they may become in the daily grind of politics, we are in a good place and we can have hope.

 

Special events coming soon

Sung Compline – Sunday 1st August at 6.00 pm - Christow

Sometimes we need something more quite and reflective and last year the ancient service of Sung Compline was well received.  So we are going to do this again on Sunday 1st August at 6.00 pm in Christow Church.

Please note that there will be no Holy Communion at Bridford on 1st August.

Family Services – Sunday 5th September 10.00 am - at Christow and at Dunsford

Dunsford has a monthly Family Service on the first Sunday each month.  Next month there will also be one in Christow.  These are fairly short and informal and suitable for all age groups.

 

Confirmation Service

I am beginning to receive enquiries about Confirmation from both adults and children.  If you think this might be for you, or you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

Teign Valley and Haldon Hill Group of Churches

At the moment our grouping of six churches is an informal arrangement that was launched back in November 2004.  Since then the relationships have become stronger and all the church councils are convinced that this is the right grouping for our village churches.  The process of making this formal and legal was initiated last year and is now almost complete.  Notices announcing the Pastoral Measure will be placed on church notice boards this month and hopefully the legalities will be complete by the end of the year.  The legal name will be the ‘United Benefice of Christow, Ashton, Bridford, Dunchideock, Dunsford and Doddiscombsleigh’, to be know informally as the ‘Teign Valley & Haldon Hill Group of Churches’.

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

July 4th                           Darcie Feasby (Dunchideock)

July 11th               Simon Squire (Dunsford)

July 17th               Ryan and Tyler Avery (Bridford)

Weddings

June 26th               Daniel Retter and Michele Devlin (Ashton)

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

                                                                                                          Graham Mayer

 

July

In these days of summer, as you look out of your window into the garden, or across to the surrounding hills and countryside, you might be forgiven for thinking that you were looking out into a scene of peace and tranquillity, a safe haven of beauty and harmony.  The truth is, of course, that our gardens and the fields beyond are both very busy and dangerous places.

 

Observe how even a large and seemingly confident bird like the rook or the jackdaw approaches with great care and attention.  They may have their eye on some tasty morsel, but before committing to a landing they will careful survey the scene.  They will make their way from sky to tree, from house roof to gatepost, before making the final drop.  The time they spend on the ground will be as short as possible, and we only have to appear close to a window for them to take fright and quickly grab what they have come for and swoop off to the nearest place of safety.

 

However the main danger for them in our gardens will not be human but feline.  Our pet cats may purr soothingly on our laps but outside they are a deadly and cruel killing machine.  A crow or magpie is unlikely to be attacked, but smaller birds certainly, especially inexperienced juveniles, and other little creatures that may attract their attention.  There are other predators around too, as I was reminded the other day when a magnificent sparrow hawk swooped down over our washing line.

 

Far less obvious is what’s going on under our feet.  As David Attenborough’s amazing films on insects revealed, this is where life can be really harsh, ruthless and cruel.  The summer is also the time when we become aware of just how busy it is out there.  Millions and millions of flies, beetles, spiders, ants – and others too tiny to see with the naked eye - are hard at work fulfilling the purposes given to them for what seems like an extraordinarily brief life span

 

Some of these take care not to be caught.  The ordinary household fly seems to be acutely aware of human approach.  Other insects seem totally oblivious so we might assume that their brains are just not big enough to process that kind of information.  But whether they large, small or undetectable, they are all hard at it, keeping their own species going and also paying their part in the bigger picture of sustaining life in this amazingly complex world.                

 

In fact the more scientists try to understand who we are and the universe into which we are born, the more baffling it seems to become.  Some scientists are suggesting that even our best human brains may not even be capable of understanding the forces that are at work both out there in the cosmos or deep within the micro-world of atoms and particles.  They say that we are still as far from decoding the universe as fish are from understanding the properties of the water that they live in.  We know they will never get there and probably neither will we.

 

As the wise man once said, the more we know, the more we realise we don’t know.  Far from being cocky and arrogant about our human achievements, immense as they are, it could be that the sooner we humbly accept our limitations, the more content we shall be.  Of course, we have to go on searching and exploring, devising and testing our theories, and a few people will devote their entire lives to doing that.  But if our brain power and capacity have their limitations because that is the way we have been designed, then it might make more sense to tackle the problems we already have rather than go looking for new ones.

 

Three thousand years before our age of modern scientific discovery, an ancient poet wrote these lines:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars which you have set in order,

what is man that you should be mindful of him,

or the son of man that you should care for him?

Although these lines date from a time when the word ‘man’ could mean humankind, and ‘him’ could be gender inclusive, they still echo clearly the thoughts that come to many people even today as they gaze on a clear starlit night into the distant mystery of the universe.

 

Likewise the sense that someone, or something, out there cares for us is as strong today as it has ever been.  People feel supported, strengthened, guided by a presence or force beyond them.  Things fall into place.  They feel loved.  Someone’s looking after them, sometimes in the most adverse circumstances.  It’s not something that could be proved scientifically but that does not make it feel any the less real.  It can feel so personal that we tend to say ‘He’ rather than ‘It’.  And in fact, whoever He is, He’s not just out there.  He’s right here where we are now and we should all probably spend more time rejoicing in Him.

 

Special events coming soon

Family Services – Sunday 4th July 10.00 am - at Christow and at Dunsford

Dunsford has a monthly Family Service on the first Sunday each month.  This month there will also be one in Christow.  These are fairly short and informal and suitable for all age groups.

Sung Compline – Sunday 2nd August at 6.00 pm - Christow

Sometimes we need something more quite and reflective and last year the ancient service of Sung Compline was well received.  So we are going to do this again on Sunday 2nd August at 6.00 pm in Christow Church.

 

Confirmation Service

I am beginning to receive enquiries about Confirmation from both adults and children.  If you think this might be for you, or you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

 

 

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

June 13th                       Rufus Scrase (Doddiscombsleigh)

 

Funerals

May 28th                 Christine Alison (Doddiscombsleigh – at Exeter Crematorium)

June 18th               Margaret Barr (Interment of Ashes at Dunchideock)

We extend our sympathy and prayers to family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

                                                                                                          Graham Mayer

 

June

It was George Herbert, the C17 priest, poet and hymn writer who said that the Devil divides the world between atheism and superstition.  In other words, if God’s enemy fails to turn you into an atheist, fails to convince you that there is no God, then his second best is to allow you your sense of the supernatural but lead you away from trusting in God into a twilight world of fear, fate and superstition.

 

So you will be on the lookout for black cats, single magpies and any cracks in the pavement.  You’ll touch wood, go round ladders, keep a good luck charm and make no plans for Friday the 13th.  You’ll be hooked to your horoscope and when it all begins to get a real grip on you, then it’s only a small step into the world of tea leaves, fortune telling, palm reading and tarot cards that still find a ready market in our world today.

 

Humankind has always had a strong sense that there is more to this world than meets the eyes.  It does not take much for this to develop into an obsessive fear of the real or imagined forces that we cannot see and for some people to end up enslaved to patterns of compulsive, ritual and placatory behaviour.  People have done and still do all sorts of things to keep the unseen gods happy.  At its most extreme this has led at various times and in different places to the atrocities and terrible distortion of human sacrifice.

 

It is easy for us to forget that, even with our scientific knowledge and understanding, there are still forces and causes around in our world that we are not yet able to understand, let alone control and harness for our own purposes.  It is also easy for us to forget just how recent some of the breakthroughs have been.  The connections that we now automatically make between hygiene and health or between diet and health just totally escaped the attention of most of our ancestors.  Not to mention a whole range of conditions and syndromes that we are only just beginning to understand but which were once dismissed simply as signs of idiocy, abnormality or worse and, if not cruelly persecuted, usually kept out of sight.

 

Ignorance, fear and superstition tend to go hand in hand.  When Jesus was around, it was generally assumed that if you were sick, crippled or disabled in some way, then it had to be someone’s fault.  It was the result of sin.  Parents could be blamed for producing a blind, lame or deformed child.  If you fell victim to disease, then it must have been your fault and you deserved to be punished and ostracised rather than looked after.  Leprosy was particularly feared as it cut you off from all normal human contact, and you had to carry a bell and make a loud noise to warn people of your approach.

 

Long before there was any understanding of these conditions and their true causes, Jesus seems deliberately to have gone looking for such people.  On one occasion, he went up to Jerusalem for a Jewish festival, and wandered to a place where all the invalids, the blind, lame and crippled, gathered around one of the reservoirs used to store the city’s water supply.

 

Superstition had it that when the water was disturbed, as it was now and again, then whoever made it into the pool first would be healed of their condition.  The disturbance in the water, which may have resulted from an intermittent spring or a surge in the supply, was attributed to an angel of the Lord.  Jesus found a man who had been waiting there thirty-eight years.  He desperately wanted to be healed but, whenever the waters were troubled, he needed someone to carry him to the water.  The result was that he had no chance of ever getting there first.

 

We generally attribute the way Jesus treated such people as an example of his love and compassion, the Son of God mirroring the love and compassion of the Father, in actions of miraculous healing, but there is more to it than that.  He also seems to be challenging the culture of ignorance, fear and superstition that was around and shaped the way such people were treated.  There was something about him that wanted to break the mould, and blast through the stranglehold that false understandings had over people’s lives.  It feels like he wanted to open them up to the truth.

 

That would be remarkable enough in itself.  But we also have the demonstration of a power to heal, not to mention other miraculous actions that are so well documented in these eye-witness accounts.  Feeding the multitude from five loaves and two fish, the instant conversion of water into wine, walking on the sea and calming a storm – just to mention a few!

 

If we believe that Jesus as Son of God shared in full the power of his Father – the Father who created the heavens and the earth and everything that is around us – then such actions would not have presented such a huge challenge.  Even raising the dead and re-appearing after his own death, reassembling and breathing life back into all the constituents of the human body, should be well within his scope.

 

We would also expect the Son of God, not just to be filled with love and compassion at the sight of sickness and disability, but to have an understanding of their true nature and causes.  We would expect the Son of God to challenge all the ignorance, fear and superstition, and all the crazy religious rules that got in the way, and that, of course, is exactly what he did do.  If Jesus was not the Son of God, with access to all the powers that went with him, and just another first-century Palestinian prophet, none of it makes much sense at all.

 

Special events during June

Trinity Sunday - Group Eucharist at Bridford – Sunday 30th May – 11.00 am

Not quite in June, but on Sunday 30th May we celebrate Trinity Sunday with a Group Service at Bridford followed by a Group Picnic in the Woodland Park.  All are welcome – bring your own picnic.

Ashton Sunday Special – Sunday 20th June at 11.30 pm

Something special usually happen in June at Ashton and this year we will be joined by the St George’s Singers led by one-time Ashtonian George Horrell for a Sunday Praise on 20th June at 11.30 pm.

 

Confirmation Service

I am beginning to receive enquiries about Confirmation from both adults and children.  If you think this might be for you, or you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their meetings as follows:

Dunsford – Wednesday 9th June at 7.30 pm at Christow Rectory

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

May 2nd                          William Horton (Christow)

Confirmations

May 16th                         Jenny Broyd (Dunsford) at Crediton Parish Church

                             by the Bishop of Crediton

Funerals

April 21st                Eileen Bocock (Interment of Ashes at Doddiscombsleigh)

We extend our sympathy and prayers to family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

                                                                                                          Graham Mayer

May

I have heard it said and people have told me that there is a place on this earth where the sea is over 4,000 m or 13,000 feet deep, that was first visited by a submarine in the year 1958, a place that is in the time zone known as UTC (or Coordinated Universal Time) and where the speed of the earth’s rotation is about zero.  If I told you that they have six months of daylight and six months of darkness every year and that this place is in the middle of an ocean but it is possible to reach it on foot, you would soon realise that I am talking about the North Pole.

 

If I then said to you that I am not sure that any of this is true, that I doubt whether such a place exists, you would probably think that I had taken leave of my senses and that the time had come to commit me to a Home for the Care of North Pole Sceptics.  In my defence I could argue that I have never been to the North Pole, so why should I believe that it exists, but I am sure that you would produce lots of good reasons as to why I should still believe that there is such a place on this earth called the North Pole.

 

The chances are that you might not have seen it either, but then you would tell me to read the stories of those who have.  I should listen to the testimony of those who have seen this place where the sun only rises once a year and where in whatever direction you turn, you are always facing south.  I might ignore what you say and go ahead with my plan to sponsor some adverts on London buses - something like ‘The North Pole probably doesn’t exist – so why worry’ - but at that point you would probably go ahead with your plan to commit me to a place of safety.

 

The other piece of evidence you might want to refer to is the powerful experience of the North Pole in our everyday lives.  For the last two or three months our weather system seems to have been dominated by the winds from the north – cold blasts from those dark frozen wastes that this year gave us an unusually generous helping of ice and snow.  I might suggest that this could just be something that comes from inside you - an idea of cold in your brain or genetic make up – and then you would be quite hard-pushed to prove that this place has any real objective existence.

 

When the women, who went to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning on the first day of the week, came back to report that the stone had been rolled away, that the body was missing, that two men in dazzling clothes had told them that the man, whose body they had buried in the tomb, was risen from the dead, it is not surprising that no one believed them.  It seemed to them that it was an idle tale, says Luke in his telling of the story.  Was it just because they were women?  Hardly likely – here is a story so far-fetched as to be impossible to believe unless you could check it out for yourself.

 

So that’s why Peter decided to go and check it out for himself.  He ran to the tomb, looked inside and saw that there was no body - just the linen cloths that they had used to wrap the body lying there by themselves.  Our difficulty, two thousand years down the line, is that we cannot check it out for ourselves.  We have no choice except to make up our own minds about what the eye-witnesses tell us.  In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that the risen Jesus appeared to more than 500 people in one go, but whether there were 500 or 5,000, we were not there.  So why should we believe them?

 

Recently a child in school asked me the difficult question: How did Jesus rise from the dead?  I suppose I could have done the politician’s trick of saying – well, that’s an interesting question, but what I’d like to tell you is this…  But I’m no politician and so I told the truth.  I don’t know, I said.  We just don’t know.

 

I might have said that the power of God raised Jesus from the dead.  That’s a bit like the north wind argument for the North Pole.  We know Jesus has risen from the dead and that he is alive because we are able to experience his presence with us in our lives and in our hearts today.  When we sense that someone out there is looking after us, guiding us and protecting us, we still may find it hard to give him a name.  Even Jesus’s apostles found it hard.  Some doubted, some wanted proof, and those doubts and questions persisted even to the moment when Jesus left them for the last time and was taken up into heaven.

 

At the very end of Matthew’s version of the story, we read how the eleven remaining disciples went back to Galilee to the mountain just as Jesus told them – and when he appeared to them and they saw him, they all worshipped him even though some of them doubted.  That’s what it’s like for us.  We worship not because we are certain about everything, but because, even though we still have questions, our relationship with God, our relationship with the eternal meaning and purpose of life is important to us.  Our faith and our worship can never be built on rock certainties, because there is too much we do not know.

 

In fact, exploring our doubts and uncertainties can draw us deeper into the mystery of it all.  I don’t know if the North Pole is there or not, but I feel the north wind on my skin and in my bones and I am prepared to accept the word of those who have been there.  Likewise none of us can be certain as to how or if Jesus rose from the dead, but when we have a sense of the strength, the power and the intervening of the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God, in our lives, we could do a lot worse than go along with the record of those eye-witnesses.  We could even join in with the worship and prayers that millions of people have offered and still offer to God, even though some of them doubted.

 

Special events during May

This month we are still in the midst of the Easter season that leads to our celebration of the Ascension of Jesus, the manifestation of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and finally Trinity Sunday when we affirm our experience of God as Father, Son and Spirit – Creator, Redeemer and Strengthener.

 

Ascension Day – Thursday 13th May – 7.30 pm Ashton

There will be a Group Eucharist to celebrate Ascension Day at Ashton at 7.30 pm.

 

Deanery Cathedral Celebration – Sunday 23rd May at 5.30 pm

Here is another opportunity to worship in the beautiful and uplifting surroundings of Exeter Cathedral.  May 23rd is the Day of Pentecost and so this will be a celebration of God the Holy Spirit.  We are inviting each church in the Deanery to bring along a banner or flag to display at the service – it can be cloth or paper with some design relating to the theme of the Holy Spirit – wind, fire or flames, or colours of red, white and gold.  Andrew Maries has been leading a group of people from across the Deanery to plan the service and there will also be the opportunity to sing in the choir or play in a music group.  If you would like to be part of that, there will be rehearsals on Sundays 9th and 16th May at 3.00 pm at Starcross Parish Church.  Just turn up to sing or play and, if you need transport, get in touch with Jane Inwood (252519).

 

Group Sung Eucharist and Picnic – Trinity Sunday – 30th May – 11.00 am

There will be a Group Service at Bridford on 30th May followed by a Group Picnic in the Woodland Park.  All are welcome.

 

Archdeacon’s Visitation – Thursday 6th May – 7.30 pm

This year we go to the Cathedral in Exeter for the annual Archdeaconry Visitation Service conducted by our Archdeacon, the Ven Penny Driver.  The service will take the form of Choral Evensong and your Churchwardens and your Rural Dean will be sworn in.  All church members are invited to attend.

 

PCC Meetings

PCC members are reminded of their meetings as follows:

Ashton – Wednesday 26th May at 2.30 pm at George Teign Barton

Bridford – Wednesday 19th May at 2.30 pm at Connets Cottage

Christow – Wednesday 19th May at 7.45 pm at The Rectory

Doddiscombsleigh – Wednesday 12th May at 7.30 pm at Oakley

Dunchideock – Thursday 27th May at 7.30 pm at The Beeches

Dunsford – Wednesday 9th June at 7.30 pm at Christow Rectory

 

From The Registers

Baptisms

April 25th              Emma O’Nions (Dunsford)

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me direct (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency).  Please feel free to phone at other times.  If I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

                                                                                                          Graham Mayer

 

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April

Anyone who has ever seen Richard Attenborough’s spectacular film of the life of Mahatma Gandhi will remember those wounding scenes where, as a lawyer in South Africa, Gandhi found himself the victim of several incidents of racial discrimination.  The most famous was on the train journey from Durban to Pretoria, when a white passenger complained to the guard about having to share a first-class compartment with an Indian, even though he had a legal and valid ticket.  Refusing to abandon his rightful place and go to the third class, he found himself forcibly thrown off the train at Pietermaritzburg where he spent a long winter night in an unheated waiting room.

 

Nearly a century later in 1993, Nelson Mandela, as the first black President of South Africa, was at the same station to celebrate Gandhi's memorable example of personal sacrifice and dedication in the face of oppression.  At a commemoration ceremony, he granted Gandhi the posthumous honour of the freedom of Pietermaritzburg, and now the famous waiting room has become something of a Gandhi memorial.

 

Mandela is, of course, best known for his own struggle against the evils of apartheid.  To start with, he tried to follow Gandhi’s example of non-violent protest, but finally realised with deep reluctance that armed resistance was the only way forward.  After the well known Sharpeville massacre when the police fired indiscriminately upon a crowd of protesters, he felt justified in responding with violence, but never to hurt or kill, only to damage significant buildings.  As leader of the ANC, he soon became a wanted man and was eventually caught and given a life sentence.

 

In a statement that he made at his trial, he ended with these striking words: ‘During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people….I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all may live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’

 

As a category D black prisoner, these were dark days, but Mandela found the strength to complete a Law degree by correspondence with the University of London, and was even nominated for the position of University Chancellor while in prison.  Even when he was entombed in his cell, his influence was being felt, not only among other black activists in prison, but outside as well.  Even the South African government could see that the tide was turning.  They began discreet negotiations with Mandela as leader of the still banned ANC.  National and international pressure gradually built up until in 1990 they announced the lifting of the bans and the release of Nelson Mandela.

 

On 11th February 1990, the world watched as Mandela walked from the tomb of his prison cell to freedom, his dreams and his ideals not only intact, but fully vindicated.  He had spent twenty-seven years in prison, but from behind those bars, he never let go of his dreams and never gave up on his ideals.  In the end, it was as if prison could not hold him or his ideals.  The old system was still in place and battles had still to be fought, but the victory had been won.  For South Africa, the days of white supremacy over a disenfranchised and disadvantaged black majority were numbered.

There’s certainly a touch of Easter about the Mandela story.  When he was sent to jail for life, it was intended to be for life, and for him it seemed to be all over.  Defeated by the forces of oppression, buried away in that dark place, you could understand it if he felt abandoned and forsaken.  But other forces were at work, forces for good and forces for freedom, and those forces eventually proved stronger than those that at first defeated him and buried him away.  It was a remarkable turn-around.

 

At Easter, we remember and celebrate another remarkable turn-around.  At Easter, we tell the story of a man whose dreams and ideals and whose protest against evil and corruption took him to the point where he was condemned to death by one of the cruelest forms of criminal execution ever devised.  Jesus believed that his mission was to confront the demons of disease and disability, as well as those of racial and social discrimination, human pride, greed and intolerance.  In their place, he offered love, compassion, mercy and justice.  Filled with God’s power, he proclaimed God’s kingdom and rule and confronted the forces of evil both in the natural world and in the hearts and minds of people.

 

But those in power and authority could not see it, and when he attacked the hypocrisy of the religious leaders who ruled the lives of the common people and enjoyed great power and privilege, his was not a voice that they wanted to hear.  They plotted how to destroy him.  They had him arrested, presented him to the civil authorities as a troublemaker, swung the crowds against him and persuaded the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to have him crucified.

 

So Jesus died and was buried, but early in the morning of the third day his tomb was found to be empty and Jesus began to be seen again.  The forces of evil and darkness had consigned Jesus to death, but death, it seems, could not hold him.  Other forces were at work.  Filled with the power of God, to whom he had remained faithful even to the point of execution, Jesus had won the victory and had been raised.

 

The only direct eye-witness testimonies that we have to such an amazing claim come from the writings of the New Testament, but there are a substantial number of them.  They come from people who were certainly not expecting it or trying to fabricate it.  The stories tell how they failed to recognize him at first and how they even doubted what they saw.  From a letter written by Paul of Tarsus to friends in the Asian city of Corinth, we learn just how many there were – hundreds as well as the close circle of disciples and family.

 

But the overriding testimony of the New Testament writings is that believing is far more important than seeing.  It is believing that Jesus, by his dying and rising again, has won the victory over the powers of evil and corruption, and by believing and living our lives in union with him, we are able claim that victory for ourselves in our own lives.  So at Easter, we don’t just tell the story of something extraordinary that happened two thousand years ago.  We celebrate a turn around in the experience of humankind that is both relevant and effective in our lives today.

Celebrating the Easter events in Church Services this April

 

Palm Sunday – 28th March

Palm Crosses will be blessed and given out at all services:

Doddiscombsleigh and Dunchideock at 8.30 am – Holy Communion (BCP)

Christow and Dunsford at 10.00 am – Parish Communion with a dramatised reading of the Passion Gospel according to St Luke

Maundy Thursday – 1st April

Commemoration of the Last Supper – Group Eucharist at Christow at 7.30 pm

Good Friday – 2nd April

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion - Group Service at Christow at 10.00 am

Easter Day – 4th April

Early morning Easter Communion (BCP) – Bridford at 8.30 am

Mid-morning Easter Celebrations with Communion are bring held in all our other village churches at 10.00 am: Ashton / Christow / Doddiscombsleigh / Dunchideock / Dunsford

 

Making Music for Haiti

Those of you who came to the special concert on 20th February in aid of ShelterBox have all remarked that they had a wonderful evening in spite of the bitter cold outside that the church heating struggled to overcome.  All the musicians of all ages did a great job and gave us a wonderfully varied concert, and it was all enhanced by having an illustrated talk from the local ShelterBox agent, who really helped us to understand the amazing work that they do.  It costs about £500 to send a Box and this concert raised enough for two boxes which is an amazing achievement.  So a special thank-you to Helena Sewell whose original idea it was and who together with Daphne West put together a most enjoyable programme.  Thank you to all of you who took part, especially former Cambridge organ scholar Alex West who came all the way from Exmouth to accompany many of the pieces and also made Christow Church’s organ sound like it has rarely sounded before!

 

Confirmation Service – November 2010

I am beginning to receive enquiries about Confirmation from both adults and children for this coming November.  Confirmation, as the name suggests, is about confirming the faith into which we were baptised or christened when we were too young to be aware of what was going on.  When we are confirmed, we affirm our acceptance of the Christian faith, the Bishop lays hands on us and we are then invited to receive the consecrated bread and wine at Holy Communion services.  We prepare ourselves for this by joining a small group of like-minded people to explore various aspects of the Christian faith.  For those who were not baptised as infants, it is also possible to be baptised as an adult or child, and to be confirmed on the same day.

 

Deanery Service at the Cathedral 2010

Every other year we have the opportunity to gather in the wonderful surroundings of Exeter with other churches from across Kenn Deanery for a special service that we plan and devise ourselves.  This year’s will be on Sunday 23rd May at 5.30 pm – so please make a note of it in your diaries or on your calendars now.   Andrew Maries is helping a group of people from across the Deanery to plan the service and there will also be the opportunity to sing in the choir or play in a music group.  If you would like to be part of that, there will be rehearsals on Sundays 9th and 16th May at 3.00 pm at Starcross Parish Church.  Just turn up to sing or play and, if you need transport, get in touch with Jane Inwood (252519).

The theme of the service is the Day of Pentecost – and we are hoping that each church in the Deanery will produce a banner or flag to display at the service – it can be cloth or paper with some design relating to the theme of the Holy Spirit – wind, fire or flames, or colours of red, white and gold.  Something big and simple – and if you think you can offer some help or ideas with this, please speak to me or to your churchwardens.

 

Annual Church Meetings

All parishioners are invited to attend our Annual Church Meetings:

Bridford                        Wednesday 21st April at 2.30 pm in Church

Dunsford                       Wednesday 21st April at 7.30 pm in Church

Dunchideock                 Monday 26th April at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall

Christow                       Thursday 29th March at 7.30 pm in Church

All nominations for Churchwardens and PCC members should be made before the meetings using lists at the back of our churches.

 

Archdeacons’ Visitation 2010

This year’s service with the Archdeacon will be on Thursday 6th May at 7.30 pm in Exeter Cathedral and will take the form of Choral Evensong.  All are welcome.

 

From The Registers

Funerals

March 19th                                  Eileen Bocock (Doddiscombsleigh)

March 22nd           Margaret Barr (Dunchideock)

We extend our sympathy and prayers to family and friends of those who have recently died.

 

Rectory Hours

I am often at my desk on weekday mornings from 10.00-12.00 and so that is usually the best time to contact me (except on Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) - but if I am not available to take a call, the answer phone is on at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  The phone number is (01647) 252845 or you can e-mail me at rivertide@btinternet.com.

 

Graham Mayer

 

 

March

The earthquake that devastated Haiti, still very much in our minds and hearts nearly two months after the event, re-opened our eyes to a number of things.  We were reminded of the fragility of the world on which we live.  When the solid ground beneath their feet started moving an hour or so before sunset on just another hot tropical afternoon, followed by a series of further shocks that brought down equally solid buildings in which people were just going about their normal business, civilised life as they knew it in the poorest country in the western world collapsed as well.  Millions of people were in a stroke killed, maimed, crushed, trapped, bereaved and their lives devastated on an unimaginable scale.

 

But through the instant attention of the media we were at once caught up in it too, and so we also saw a world-wide desire to respond, rescue, help, donate and also share the anger and frustration that the aid was not getting to where it was needed as fast as it should have done.  To see a people suffering in this way, whatever their colour, class or creed, whatever the defects of their political system and way of life, evoked the deepest of responses based on our common humanity.  They are people just like us and they desperately needed and still need our help.

 

There were also other reactions.  Out on a limb were the voices of a few claiming that this was a judgment sent by God to punish the people for their evil and corrupt lifestyle.  Then there were those who triumphantly paraded it as another good reason for not believing in an all-loving and all-powerful God.  The fact is that Haiti lies near a fault-line where two sections of the earth’s crust meet and grind past each other in opposite directions.  Stress builds up and eventually lets rip with bursts of energy resulting in earth tremors.  Occasionally they are very severe, the last two major ones in Haiti being recorded in 1751 and 1842.

 

That is what the world we live in is like, full of challenges and imperfections that require all our human toil and struggle, resources and ingenuity, to overcome and contain.  We might wonder why God, if he does exist and if he is all good, all-loving and all powerful, did not create heaven on earth for us his creatures.  The fact is that he did not and nothing in this world or in this life is or ever will be perfect.  So if we believe that God does exist, and that he is all good, all-loving and all-powerful, we also have to come to a sense of what his purposes might be.  And if God’s Son is the Saviour of the world, and if the salvation that he provides does not include round the clock global protection against any evil that may befall us, we have to come to a sense of what his salvation is all about.

 

This is not easy for any of us to do, and we should be aware of those think they can provide glib explanations, either for horrors of this magnitude, or of the regular daily experiences of tragedy, disease and suffering that are around us all the time.  The Bible certainly does not try to offer any easy answers.  On the contrary, the Bible tends to reflect and express the pain of those who suffer, and much of the Old Testament records the sufferings of God’s chosen people, as slaves in Egypt, or later as a conquered people in exile and in the days of Jesus as a downtrodden people suffering under the occupying armies of a foreign colonial power.

 

That was the context in which Jesus decided one day to preach in his local synagogue on one the people’s favourite texts, from the prophet Isaiah:

 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to announce good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

 

For a people who never doubted or questioned the existence of God, the promise of an anointed king who would release them from captivity and set them free from their oppression would have been deeply comforting, and so this passage was often chosen as a reading.  What took them by surprise were the opening words of the sermon that followed: ‘Today in your hearing this scripture has been fulfilled’.

 

This passage in Luke’s gospel points clearly to Jesus himself as ‘the anointed one’ – in Hebrew ‘the Messiah’ and in Greek ‘the Christ’ – also referred to by other titles such as ‘the Son of God’ or ‘the Son of Man’.  The gospels also make it clear that the salvation he has in mind has nothing to do with political revolution or regime change.  Neither is it simply about personal salvation or getting to heaven.  Salvation is about transformation and healing in its widest sense.  Salvation is about the transformation and healing of all of us as individuals, of all of us collectively as families, as society, as people interacting and building a life together, and of creation as a whole.

 

As we and all humankind continue to struggle with the challenges and imperfections of this world and our daily lives, so we see the signs and fruits of transformation, signs and fruits, if you like, of the kingdom of God that Jesus constantly spoke about.  Let the children come to me, he said, rather than shun them, brutalise them or dismiss them until they had become like adults, which was the way they were usually treated and still are in some places.  Jesus attributed full human dignity and respect to other classes of people who were downtrodden in the society of his day: the sick, the lame, the blind, the deaf, the disfigured and also the women.  He showed himself far more inclined to forgive and have mercy, rather than condemn.  Judge not, he said, lest you be judged yourself, recognising that a change in social attitudes and prejudices can only come from a change within us, not by legislation from outside.

 

Our response to the appalling tragedy experienced by people in Haiti is also a sign of transformation.  Love and compassion and a generous response to the needs of others lie at the heart of the Christian gospel and they work powerfully for the changing of the world in which we live.  They also reflect the nature of God himself and act as channels for his love and power in the very imperfect and challenging world in which we have to spend our lives.

Special events during March

Mothering Sunday – 14th March at 10.00 am – Ashton and Dunsford

We celebrate mothering and parenting of all kinds, past and present, on Mothering Sunday.  This year it falls on 14th March and there will be special Mothering Sunday Services for all our villages at Ashton and Dunsford Churches at 10.00 am.  All are welcome.

 

Choral Evensong – Passion Sunday – 21st March at 6.30 pm - Dunsford

The good old Prayer Book Evensong still remains a popular form of worship – not necessarily every week – but certainly on special occasions.  Passion Sunday has a special place in the church calendar as we look ahead to commemorating the events of Holy Week and Easter, helping us once again to ‘survey the wondrous Cross on which the Prince of Glory died’.  This is a Group Service and all are welcome to attend and, if so inclined, to join the choir for the occasion.  For further details of the choir practice, please contact Ivor Pincombe on 252531. 

 

This year’s Lent Course

I am leading a Lent Course this year starting Friday 26th February at 10.30 am and then on Thursday mornings 10.30-12.00 for the remaining four weeks until March 25th.  We shall be looking at one of the leading yet somewhat controversial founders of the Christian faith, born as Saul of Tarsus and known better as St Paul.  If, like me, you are puzzled by Paul, come and join the rest of us in the first instance at The Spinney in Bridford by kind invitation of Francis and Daphne Leversedge.  For later weeks, the venue may change, so please phone or e-mail first to find out.

 

Lent Lunches

In Dunsford Lent Lunches are being held on Wednesdays at 12.30 pm at 9 Brownings Mead, by kind invitation of Cecily Tripp.

 

Palm Sunday – 28th March – 10.00 am – Christow and Dunsford

The story of the Passion will be read in dramatic form and Palm Crosses will be blessed and given out at these services on Palm Sunday:

There will also be 8.30 am Holy Communion on Palm Sunday at Dunchideock and Doddiscombsleigh.

 

Confirmation Service

I am beginning to receive enquiries about Confirmation from both adults and children.  Confirmation, as the name suggests, is about confirming the faith into which we were baptised or christened when we were too young to be aware of what was going on.  When we are confirmed, we affirm our commitment to the Christian faith, the Bishop lays hands on us and we are then invited to receive the consecrated bread and wine at Holy Communion services.  During the period of preparation, usually undertaken in a small group, there will be an opportunity to explore various aspects of the Christian faith.  For those who were not baptised as infants, it is also possible to be baptised as an adult or child, and to be confirmed on the same occasion.  This year the Confirmation Service for our area is planned for November in one of our local churches.  If you think this might be for you, or you would like to know more, please get in touch.

 

Annual Church Meetings

All parishioners are invited to attend our Annual Church Meetings:

Ashton                          Wednesday 24th March at 3.00 pm in the Village Hall

Bridford                        Wednesday 21st April at 2.30 pm in Church

Christow                       Thursday 29th April at 7.30 pm in Church

Doddiscombsleigh         Thursday 25th March at 7.30 pm in Church

Dunchideock                 Monday 26th April at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall

Dunsford                       Wednesday 21st April at 7.30 pm in Church

All nominations for Churchwardens and PCC members should be made before the meetings using lists at the back of our churches.

 

From The Registers

Funerals

February 10th           Edith Pegler (Dunsford)

February 12th        Tim Maggs (Interment of Ashes at Dunsford)

February 17th        Rosie Gillett (Interment of Ashes at Dunchideock)

We extend our sympathy and prayers to family and friends of those who have died.

 

Rectory Hours

The best time to contact me is normally from 10.00-11.00 in the morning, (except Tuesdays, my day-off, unless it is a matter of great urgency) but the answer phone is available at all times to receive messages and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Graham Mayer

February

You may know the story of ‘The Emperor's New Clothes’ written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837 and then re-written in song form by Frank Loesser for Danny Kaye in a film that was based loosely on the Danish story-teller’s life.  As it was easier to fit the word ‘king’ into the lyrics rather than emperor, the song ended up being about a slightly less important man.  However it did not change the impact of the story and it gave us some wonderfully memorable lines.
 
The story draws a sharp contrast between adult pretence and hypocrisy, on the one hand, and the plain-speaking honesty of a child on the other.    It’s all a scam that two swindlers play on a king by convincing him that he is wearing a magic suit of clothes when in fact he has nothing on at all.  They persuade him that if he was a wise man he would be able to see that he was wearing the most beautiful clothes, whereas if he was a fool he would appear to be naked.  Naturally the king, not wanting to look a fool, gets taken in.  So do the queen, the courtiers and all the people in the land - so much so that the king decides to wear it for a royal parade.  However there is a boy in the crowds who has not heard about the magic suit and does not know what he is supposed to see.  He looks at the king horrified.  He cannot deny what his own eyes tell him.  The king is in the all-together, and it’s altogether too chilly a morn!

 

Children are good at telling it how it is, but for adults it does not always come so easily.  Politicians and people in public office seem to find it especially hard, although it’s not entirely their fault.  In the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, the men who had the courage to tell it how it was were called prophets and they often  had a rough ride.  Jeremiah found himself thrown to the bottom of a dry well for his inability to keep quiet.  They also had to contend with what the Bible calls ‘false prophets’, the advisors who spun a sweet web of lies to keep the leaders and the public happy.  What the true prophets did was to look at what was happening around them, as it were, with the eyes of God and speak the truth as they saw it.

 

If that meant telling everyone that they had better change a few things, like their life style of complacent greed and excess or like showing more compassion to the poor, hungry and deprived, then they told them.  If that meant showing how the collapse of moral standards, and the relentless pursuit of personal pleasure and satisfaction, was undermining society, making them vulnerable to foreign attack, then they told them.  The fact that their prophecies came true makes us think that they had the ability to foretell the future.  What they actually had was the insight to tell forth the present.  They told it how it was, and they could see the likely consequences.

 

Today we are hearing the voices of prophets warning us about nothing less than global catastrophe.  We are devouring the world’s resources